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August 27, 2008


I'm totally eliding the African-American cuisine aspect to Bay Area cooking. It's easy to find collards here because we have lots of African-Americans who cook Southern food. It turns out that my neighborhood also used to be full of "Okies", working-class white people from the Dust Bowl migration, mostly Southern. They eat greens and fatback, too. But Southern food today in the Bay Area is the province of African-Americans, who run many popular barbecue restaurants, along with attendant bottled barbecue sauce sales.

When my husband came with me to North Carolina he was really surprised to eat at a barbecue place where the staff and cooks were all white. He didn't know that white people did barbecue.

Anyway, to call this food redneck (implying white people) is like calling hummus and falafel Israeli food. I have to be careful about culinary colonialism...

Check out a book on West African cuisine. Lots of fried food (with a more delicate crust than the Southern standard), lots of vegetables overcooked by European standards. But for greens, you have to cook it a long time to make it edible.

So both practices are probably from Africa, but have diffused to Southern whites in general.

I'm surprised that redneck food is chic, but the Bay Area has had more unlikely fads.

YUM. This foodie (or "fooderati" as it's now called) is salivating over your recipe. I'm all about the fatback, the greens, and ... not mentioned ... the grits.

I have actually eaten collards this very week, although I stir-fried them with garlic, salt and EVOO rather than adding fatback. Fatback is not in my refrigerator, I must confess!

If not fatback, Alison, how about pancetta?

PS I impressed my friend's husband mightily at the chemo ward, thanks to you. Two weeks ago or more I told them about the MIT solar battery discovery. They are both MIT grads, scientists. The husband was working on his laptop and seemed completely uninterested. Yesterday he greeted me with big smiles, made lots of eye contact, chatted me up. He'd received an email from MIT confirming everything I had told him and now he thinks I am very smart. (He said so). I said I have smart friends and pay attention to what they tell me...

You are too modest. If we didn't think that you were smart and a source of fascinating information, we couldn't be bothered to tell you anything! I've learned a lot by reading your blog and feel pleased to share. I owe you for the recipes, if nothing else!

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