I just got home last night from a culinary tourism swing across Tennessee, and today’s Memphis Commercial Appeal brings a great story on the Southern Foodways Alliance’s (SFA) tenth annual Symposium held last week in Oxford, Mississippi. Roy Blount, Jr. was the headliner. Here are several podcasts of the event, although I don’t see Roy’s remarks among them–too bad about that.
Roy Blount, Jr. photo by Valerie Shaff from Blount’s website
A day or two before this conference began, I was sitting in Pat’s slugburger emporium in Selmer, Tennessee–see earlier post–expounding on culinary tourism. I had played up Selmer’s slugburgers in various editions of my guidebook, and Pat said she had once served slugburgers to six French tourists who had read the book–bless their hearts–and stopped in on their way to the Jack Daniel’s distillery.
Selmer has the greatest concentration of slugburgers in Tennessee and needs to play up those slugburgers. If you go to the McNairy County website, there is no mention of slugburgers under the tourism section. If you look at the dining section of the website, Pat’s and Wink’s aren’t even there, yet Kentucky Fried Chicken and MacDonalds’ are.
Earth to the McNairy County Chamber of Commerce: no culinary tourist cares about franchise fast food. They want to eat local food prepared by local hands according to local traditions. Pat’s and Wink’s may not be members of the C of C, but they are the best food attraction that Selmer has.
If you cook it–and if you tell them about it–they will come. And eat. And go home happy.