Meet Lolis Eric Elie of Southern Foodways Alliance

Meet one of the founders of the SFA and preserver of Southern food culture.


My name is Lolis Eric Elie, and I'm a writer from New Orleans. The most important recipes to the south are the ones that cover the entire region. Obviously, cornbread which we named our anthology of best southern food after. That would be one. Barbecue is also crucial. Even though the sauce has changed from region to region, the food that use changes from region to region, think it's crucial. Fried chicken is emblematic of the south. And I would also say biscuits. Because the Northern tradition is more of yeast risen breads, and the quick breads of the South are emblematic. My father used to talk about how to use to have biscuits, because they couldn't afford to buy store bought bread. And it's, it's difficult to imagine now, that someone was forced to eat homemade biscuits, because they couldn't afford to buy some generic store bought bread. If I was gonna pick one food item to tell the story of the south, I'd have to pick okra. First of all, it's from Africa. So you get this whole sense of the connection between southern American food and west African food. Additionally, okra's one of those things that people who aren't familiar with it, or people from other parts of the country look down on. Because well, it's mucilaginous, and it's not the taste or flavor they're used to. It's also interesting to me, that this food, from southern Africa, from west Africa has gotten to be emblematic of the south for all southern peoples. So it also tells the extent, to which even in our most segregated days. The food and the pot was always integrated.
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