Meet John Egerton of Southern Foodways Alliance

Watch our Q&A with one of the founders of SFA and preserver of Southern food culture.


I'm John Edrington and I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I write about food and I love The Southern Foodways Alliance. When I think about the best food in the South, I think about what we would show to somebody from another place. First thing that pops in my mind is spoon bread. It's cornbread but it's, it's just greater than cornbread. It's, it's so wonderful. It's like a souffle, cornbread souffle. If you were in the poshest restaurant in the world You could serve spoonbread and they would say, love it, but if you were in a little café or in somebody's house, they would say, I wanna serve you some spoonbread, and you would say, that's fantastic. It's all-world wonderful. If I wanted to pick up a tool in the kitchen and say, this is sort of symbolical of what southern food is about. I'd pick up the rolling pin maybe. There, there are other possibilities but that's a good one. You're gonna have a ball of dough that you made. You're gonna make biscuit. And so you throw that dough down on the the counter. You pick up your rolling pin and you start working on it. And I think All kinds of good stuff can come out of that. There's biscuits in there. There's rolls in there. You can make a pie crust in there. It's bread. Bread is wonderful. Bread in the south is hot. Bread everywhere else is cold. I mean, this is who we are. We're the hot bread. We're we're hot, down in a hot zone. And all the rest of the world has cold bread, that's why we're different. Person I admire the most, is Edna Lewis. She epitomized to me, the excellence of southern food. She was born in Virginia, into a. A free slave community, post Civil War. Her ancestors were people who had been slaves, and Edna Lewis came along and I'm, I'm just guessing now but I would say long about, 1890s or 1900. In the early part of the 19th 20th Century, she was a black woman who saw the virtues of Southern food that transcended race and class and she put together The whole picture of Southern food as the best regional food in America. And I revere her. I think of her as the, as the symbol of The very best of us as we try to carry that tradition forward.
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