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Friday afternoon’s tasting tests brimmed with ribs, corn on the cob, and bourbon
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
Friday afternoon’s tasting tents at the 2013 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival were on tap to feature both traditional and innovative Southern cuisine and drink. There was a spread of old and new vendors representing Southern states including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (as well as several other countries).
Traditional Southern spirits ranged from Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon moonshine to delightful bourbon from Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery based in Nashville, Tenn. Less traditional, yet up-and-coming regional spirits presented with vendors including North Carolina’s Cardinal Gin and Mississippi’s Cathead Vodka. Unsurprisingly, there was a wide selection of craft brews with standouts including pints from North Carolina’s Mystery Brewing and Kentucky’s Kentucky Ale.
Barbecue, in various preparations, was in nearly every tent. Many vendors opted to serve pulled pork sandwiches, but Alabama’s Jim & Nick’s lusciously grilled pork ribs and corn on the cob reigned supreme. Fried chicken was also a natural crowd favorite; Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken from Memphis, Tenn., had most folks forgo their napkins to lap the crust’s spicy juice off their fingers.
I (somewhat) healed my late-afternoon food coma with a strawberry mint julep chocolate from Asheville, N.C.’s French Broad Chocolate Lounge, as well as gelato from Atlanta’s Honeysuckle Gelato. In trying to taste the best of what the South has to offer this weekend, the size of my stomach might be my biggest challenge this weekend.
5 Classic Southern Sandwiches in the United States
John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, is often credited with the creation of the sandwich however, he most likely was not the first person to enjoy ingredients squished between two slices of bread. But the 4th Earl of Sandwich’s love of the easy meal succeeded in giving a nickname to this affordable cuisine. Soon after, the sandwich swept the world, offering almost an infinite number of variations.
In 1816, sandwich recipes began appearing in American cookbooks brought over by British colonists. But, for a long time, sandwiches were a type of food for the elite because bread was an expensive good and difficult to produce, especially in the Southeast where wheat needed to be imported. John Mariani's "Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink," as reported by Food Timeline, explains that:
Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented pre-sliced bread and a way to keep sliced bread fresh in 1928, and that continued the trend for sandwiches. In fact, after the invention of pre-sliced bread, more bread was consumed in the United States, leading to an increase in sales of spreads and jellies to place on top of the bread. Wonder Bread was invented in 1930, Welch's grape jelly was invented in 1923, Peter Pan peanut butter was invented in 1928, and Velveeta cheese was invented in 1928. Today, the sandwich is an essential part of Southern cuisine.
A New Turn in the South Southern Flavors Reinvented for you Kitchen
When Hugh Acheson, a chef from Ottawa, settled in Georgia, who knew that he would woo his adopted home state and they would embrace him as one of their own?
In 2000, following French culinary training on both coasts, Hugh opened Five and Ten in Athens, a college town known for R.E.M., and the restaurant became a spotlight for his exciting interpretation of traditional Southern fare. Five and Ten became a favorite local haunt as well as a destination—Food & Wine named Hugh a “Best New Chef” and at seventy miles away, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution named Five and Ten the best restaurant in Atlanta. Then came the five consecutive James Beard nominations.
Now, after opening two more restaurants and a wine shop, Hugh is ready to share 120 recipes of his eclectic, bold, and sophisticated flavors, inspired by fresh ingredients. In A New Turn in the South, you’ll find libations, seasonal vegetables that take a prominent role, salads and soups, his prized sides, and fish and meats—all of which turn Southern food on its head every step of the way. Hugh’s recipes include: Oysters on the Half Shell with Cane Vinegar and Chopped Mint Sauce, shucked and left in their bottom shells Chanterelles on Toast with Mushrooms that soak up the flavor of rosemary, thyme, and lemon Braised and Crisped Pork Belly with Citrus Salad—succulent and inexpensive, but lavish Yellow Grits with Sautéed Shiitakes, Fried Eggs, and Salsa Rossa—a stunning versatile condiment Fried Chicken with Stewed Pickled Green Tomatoes—his daughters’ favorite dish and Lemon Chess Pies with Blackberry Compote—his go-to classic Southern pie with seasonal accompaniment.
Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of Five & Ten and The National located in Athens, GA and Empire State South in Atlanta, GA. Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada he started cooking at a young age and decided to make it his career after taking a very long time to realize that academics weren’t his thing. At age 15, he began working in restaurants after school and learning as much as possible. Today, Acheson’s experience includes working under Chef Rob MacDonald where he learned stylized French cuisine, wine and etiquette at the renowned Henri Burger restaurant in Ottawa, and in San Francisco as the chef de cuisine with Chef Mike Fennelly at Mecca, and later as opening sous chef with famed Chef Gary Danko at his namesake restaurant, where he found a love of the simple, pure and disciplined.
Taking these experiences, Hugh developed a style of his own forging together the beauty of the South with the flavors of Europe and opening the critically acclaimed Athens, GA restaurant Five & Ten in March of 2000.
In 2007, Acheson opened The National with fellow chef Peter Dale. Adding to his list of dining establishments, Hugh opened Atlanta based restaurant, Empire State South in the summer of 2010.
Hugh’s cookbook titled A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen published by Clarkson Potter, hit the bookshelves on October 18 th , 2011 and won the award for Best Cookbook in the field of “American Cooking” by the James Beard Foundation. In A New Turn in the South, you’ll find libations, seasonal vegetables that take a prominent role, salads and soups, Hugh’s prized sides, and fish and meats, turning Southern food on its head every step of the way. With inviting and surprising photography, full of Hugh’s personality, and pages layered with his own quirky writing and sketches, he invites you into his community and his very creative world of food— to add new favorites to your repertoire.
Acheson’s fresh approach to Southern food has earned him a great deal of recognition including Food & Wine’s Best New Chef (2002), the Atlanta Journal Constitution Restaurant of the Year (2007), a five time (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) James Beard nominee and 2012 winner for Best Chef Southeast. In 2007, Hugh was named a Rising Star from StarChefs.com and in 2012 he won the StarChefs Mentor Award. Chef Mario Batali chose Hugh as one of the 100 contemporary chefs in Phaidon Press’ Coco: 10 World Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs. Hugh has also been in Bon Appetit, the New York Times, Garden & Gun, Fine Living, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens, and Saveur.
In 2010 Hugh competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters: Season 3 and in 2011 he returned to the hit show as a judge on Top Chef: Seasons 9 and 10.
But that is to everyone outside of Athens. To Athens, he is the guy who owns those restaurants, has one eyebrow, a wife far better looking than he is and two young children who are the apple of his eye.
Award wining chef, restaurateur, Top Chef Judge, and transplanted Canadian Hugh Acheson talks to us about his book. Which was recently named by the James Beard Foundation as ‘Best Cookbook in the field of “American Cooking”’.
How does a guy from Ottawa wind up in Georgia cooking Southern food?
My wife is from the South so we moved here, but I have grown to really love the pace of life, the traditions, and the truly great people who live here.
Can you tell us a little about the writing process that you went through with the book? Was it a challenge to get you point of view or philosophy across?
My creative process is really all about getting in the kitchen with fresh, local ingredients and putting them to work. I don’t always know exactly how a dish will be finished, but it all comes together in the end. If you have good technique and great, seasonal ingredients, it’s hard to mess it up. But, for this book, I wanted to showcase the true beauty of Southern food and our agrarian roots. Southern produce and products, when allowed to shine, really do become healthy and tasty vittles.
Southern food is steeped in tradition. Yet given it’s often eclectic and diverse origins is Southern food a cuisine the lends itself well to new interpretations and ingredients?
Absolutely! A good chef can take any food tradition from any part of the world and reinterpret something new and great.
For me, it’s less about new ingredients and more about bringing back some of our quality but forgotten heirloom products.
Is there one, or more misconceptions about southern food that you would like to clear up?
There is no universal “Southern Food.” Sure, there are Southern favorites – fried chicken, BBQ, cornbread, grits, but everybody does their favorite differently. And, yeah, everybody’s grandma makes the best version.
That it’s unhealthy! It’s all about honoring the produce. We have a fantastic agrarian society in the South and we need to use it!
Did you have an ‘a-ha’ monument when you knew that this was the food that you wanted to make?
Not really. I was just lucky that it became my home. But where ever I live I want to use the local, seasonal food.
A new book! It’s pretty veggi-centric and all about how to use the produce from your farmers’ market or CSA box.
“Hugh is one of the small handful of truly great chefs working in the South today who understands the importance of building and maintaining a bridge between tradition and innovation. His dishes may seem a bit like R.E.M. songs in that they are thoughtful, geo-specific, crafty, smart, and all about pure pleasure. But the dishes, both new and old, all whistle Dixie in a way that honors the true magnificence of the last real regional cooking in the United States. A random selection of any twelve recipes in this book, from cocktails to mains, sides, and all the way to desserts, could easily make up a greatest hits of a fine chef. This book is simply a perfect way to understand and to make delicious and simple American food, refracted through the spectacular prism of the modern South. Hugh is a modern master and one of my heroes.” —MARIO BATALI
“It’s rare to find a chef’s cuisine and his place—Athens, GA—so in step with each other: unmistakably Southern and yet unlike anywhere else in the South. That A New Turn in the South brings Hugh’s extraordinary kitchen sorcery into our home kitchen is nothing short of a miracle!” —MATT AND TED LEE
“Hugh shares his love for his adopted homeland in heartfelt stories and odes to favored ingredients. This beautifully designed book lives up to its name with new turns on classics and inventive riffs on regional favorites. It will have readers swooning and cooks inspired for years.” —MARTHA FOOSE
“I love the way Hugh has articulated his South, which is all about the simple, tasty, friendly treasures in life, of a people and their culture. A beautiful book!” —JOHN BESH
“Hugh is one of the smartest and best cooks I know. I would happily eat his food every day.” —SCOTT PEACOCK
“A New Turn in the South will bring Hugh’s smart, delicious cooking and love of seasonal ingredients to any kitchen.” —ANDREA REUSING
“I love Hugh’s book because it shows that Southern food has evolved beyond the expected, into a new Southern food—embracing cultures from around the globe while staying true to the ingredients at the root of Southern cooking.” —DONALD LINK
“Hugh is an eloquent, intellectual spirit who cares deeply for food and its impact on a community. He combines classic French technique with a Southern sense of place, using unique Southern ingredients in a fresh, innovative style. —FRANK STITT
Medjool Dates Stuffed with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Celery
This snackie takes the richness of the dates and counters it with the sharpness of Parmigiano-Reggiano and the crunch of celery. It’s a great match as the sweetness finds a nice savory foil to dance with. A little date goes a long way though, so think accordingly.
This is not the time to go cheap on the Parmigiano. True Parmigiano-Reggiano is a testament to the old guard. Rules regarding its production have not changed nor economized through technology. The results are a hard cow’s milk cheese, unpasteurized, aged for at least 18 and up to 48 months. Most grocery stores have decent Parmigiano nowadays but for the really great ones, find a cheese monger, a great Italian food shop, or go online to Murray’s Cheese or Cow Girl Creamery. It costs money but great Parmigiano is worth every penny and keeps for a number of months in your fridge.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
2-ounce piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon good balsamic vinegar
Carefully slit, lengthwise, each date. Pull out the pits and discard. Using your fingers like you are opening a book, open the date a little to create a space for the filling.
Peel the celery with a sharp peeler. Discard the stringy peelings and then cut the celery into thin bias cuts about 1/4-inch thick and 1-inch long. Place the celery in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice, parsley, and salt. Toss well and add the Parmigiano.
Grab about 1 1/2 tablespoon of the stuffing between your thumb and forefinger and place a date in your other hand, with the open area facing out. Place the stuffing in the date and gently close your hand around the fruit to secure the filling. Place the stuffed dates on a platter and drizzle with a touch of balsamic vinegar and the remaining olive oil.
Place on a small platter and serve.
Reprinted from A NEW TURN IN THE SOUTH: SOUTHERN FLAVORS REINVENTED FOR YOUR KITCHEN by HUGH ACHESON. Copyright © 2011 by HUGH ACHESON. Photographs copyright © 2011 by RINNE ALLEN. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.”
Dining options when visiting Chastain Park. Here are 3 dining options: bring takeout, fine dining nearby, cheap eats nearby.
Your are allowed to bring food into the park. The last I heard you could bring coolers in, but definitely check before doing this, as their rules change from time to time. That being said, if you are looking for some great takeout try Eatzi’s. They have some really tasty dishes. The only caveat to bring your food in is that you will have to carry it in and out which is not fun. Especially given the fact that you may have to walk like a mile from where you park your car to your seats.
The second option is an upscale restaurant nearby Chastain, Horseradish Grill. I would especially recommend this if you have guests from out of town. The Horseradish Grill was featured in a Foodnetwork Special – I think it was $40 a Day hosted by Rachael Ray. It is described at New Southern Cuisine. The best way I can describe it southern food with a modern twist. Think of it as jazzed up Po Folks. They also have a beautiful patio for outdoor dining. Average entree cost is about $25.
The last option, and every bit as tasty as the other options is La Fonda Latina. This is by no means a fancy smancy restaurant, but it has extremely flavorful food and quick, efficient service. You can’t go wrong with the enchiladas, and quesadillas are not to be missed. Expect to pay about $10 with tip.
All these options are within close proximity to Chastain Park. Hope this helps!
4001 Powers Ferry Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30342
About the author
Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!
Emily Rose Thorne
Vans Warped Tour
When: July 31, 11 a.m.
Where: Lakewood Amphitheatre
Details: The annual punk and alt-rock festival stops in Atlanta this weekend as part of its final full cross-country tour. Bands such as Simple Plan, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Tonight Alive, electronic duo 3OH!3, The Voice winner and former Hey Monday vocalist Cassadee Pope, and pop-punk favorites Waterparks and Mayday Parade are among the lineup.
Wild World Weekend
When: July 28 and 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Zoo Atlanta
Cost: Free with general admission
Details: You’re probably used to learning about biodiversity at Zoo Atlanta, but this weekend, you can celebrate your fellow humans at this cultural heritage festival. Rain or shine, you can watch (and learn!) traditional dances, listen to international music and stories, or get crafty for a more hands-on approach to discovering international cultures, right alongside the animals from each region represented.
8th Atlanta Ice Cream Festival
When: July 28, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Piedmont Park
Details: It’s all about balance at the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival the event may be centered around America’s favorite dessert, but the activities focus on health and wellness, too. Come to conquer the Ice Cream Eating Competition, but stay for the Fight Cancer Walk, Zumba, yoga, tai chi, line dancing, and much more for kids and adults alike. You can even take a free health screening, donate blood, and get help building an exercise routine.
Sublime Doughnuts & Beer Pairing
When: July 29, 1-8 p.m.
Where: Second Self Brewery
Details: A ticket to this event gets you four beers from the Westside’s Second Self Beer Company and four mini donuts from Sublime. Try pairing the brewery’s special new A-Town Cream Ale with Sublime’s namesake pastry, or just enjoy sampling some of the city’s coolest creations.
When: July 29, 4-7 p.m.
Where: Flatiron City
Cost: $60-100 (free for kids 12 and under)
Details: Looking for something healthier than ice cream, doughnuts, and beer? Head over to PeachFest to sample treats and drinks made from the Georgia-grown fruit. Sixty-five Peach State chefs, brewers, farmers, and distillers will fix you up a feast of peach-ified crudos, sausages, chutneys, brews, pizzas, barbecue, and much more. Plus, it’s all in the name of charity: proceeds go to Piggy Bank, a nonprofit that helps launch, support, and grow sustainable family farms.
Casey Cagle vs. Brian Kemp: A quick guide to the Republican runoff candidates for Georgia governor
Photographs courtesy of the Cagle and Kemp Campaigns respectively
At the end of the Georgia primary election on May 22, gubernatorial candidates Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp had earned 38.95 percent and 25.52 percent of the Republican vote respectively, pushing opponents Clay Tippins, Hunter Hill, and Michael Williams out of the running. But because neither won more than 50 percent of the vote needed to win the candidacy outright, they advanced to the July 24 runoff to determine who will face Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams in November.
The runoff vote could be a tough choice for many Republicans since these candidates have so much in common : both are Christian businessmen who attended public high schools and universities in Georgia, and they’ve been involved in politics for around 15 years each. Further, both claim to be unwavering in their pro-life beliefs and fancy themselves staunch defenders of the Second Amendment. They have both vocally praised President Donald Trump on social media and in speeches during their campaigns. (Although neither endorsed him in the 2016 primary, they did both support him in the general election).
If elected, both candidates pledge to advocate for rural communities and have both been singing from the conservative hymnbook used throughout the years: they’ll support small businesses, improve statewide infrastructure (mainly roads), protect the state’s already lax gun laws, curb illegal immigration, and cut taxes.
So how to choose if, after the barrage of negative ads, accusations, and endorsements, you’re still an undecided GOP voter? (Note: Only voters who cast a Republican ballot in the May primary or who did not vote in the May primary can cast a Republican ballot on July 24.) The two differ slightly in a few key areas: Medicaid expansion transportation, and their campaign personas.
Photograph courtesy of Casey Cagle Campaign
Meet Casey Cagle
Raised by a single mother, the 52-year-old lieutenant governor grew up in Gainesville and attended Georgia Southern University on a football scholarship. After a leg injury ended his football career at age 20, he left college in 1986 to return home to Gainesville where he purchased a tuxedo rental store. He later opened several more locations in North Georgia. In 1999, he founded Southern Heritage Bank and served as chair until it merged with Gainesville Bank & Trust in 2004.
Cagle ran for the Georgia Senate in the 49th District in 1994 and won against incumbent Democrat Jane Hemmer, becoming the youngest member of the State Senate at age 28. He was re-elected five times and became the first Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006, a position he’s since been re-elected to twice. He had planned to run for governor in the 2010 race, but dropped out early, citing a battle with a degenerative spinal condition. He launched his current gubernatorial campaign in April 2017.
The Gainesville Republican has long been viewed as a business-friendly establishment conservative who was next-in-line (or, at least, well ahead of everyone else) for the governor’s office. But in February, Cagle surprised the business community when he controversially threatened to “kill any tax legislation that benefits [Delta Air Lines],” one of Georgia’s top employers, after the airline ended discounts for National Rifle Association members following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He made the threat while a bill containing a major sales tax exemption for jet fuel was up for consideration in the General Assembly the Senate removed the jet fuel clause and passed the bill. The NRA, with whom Cagle has an A+ rating, has endorsed him in the gubernatorial race.
Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized Cagle during this campaign in light of several incriminating audio recordings leaked by Clay Tippins, his rival in the GOP primary, and later Brian Kemp. Kemp released one tape earlier this month in which Cagle said, “This primary felt like it was who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.”
Cagle advocates for healthcare reform and said he would not oppose using federal funds to expand Medicaid, a federal program that provides free or low-cost health insurance to people with low income or who live with certain disabilities and health conditions, in Georgia as long as the state designed its program to require able-bodied recipients to work (which the Trump administration formally encouraged in January). On his campaign website, Cagle is quoted as saying the employment requirement could be fulfilled by “working, volunteering, or mastering skills for an in-demand career by enrolling in a job-training course.”
On education, he says teachers and students are burdened with too many tests, favors charter schools, and support school choice. Earlier this year, Cagle supported House Bill 217, which nearly doubled the tax-credit cap on nonprofit organizations that fund scholarships for students to attend private schools. But Kemp claims Cagle only did so for political reasons in June, Kemp leaked another snippet of Tippins’s recorded conversation with Cagle in which the lieutenant governor says that the legislation was bad in “a thousand different ways.” On the tape, Cagle said he supported it just to prevent Hunter Hill, a gubernatorial rival, from receiving a multimillion-dollar infusion of campaign cash from a foundation known for supporting charter school programs. In a statement response to the tape, Cagle told WSB-TV that he “openly and honestly” answered Tippins’s questions that he’s a “longtime and consistent supporter of conservative reforms that expand school choice.” He said HB 217 “wasn’t perfect” and that neither side got exactly what they wanted, and closed, “As governor, I’ll advocate for and sign legislation that expands education options and opportunity.” Cagle also wants to expand Georgia’s College and Career Academy Network, a program he helped launch that allows high school students to graduate with an associate’s degree or industry certification, and focus on third-grade reading.
Cagle, who as lieutenant governor has been at the center of discussions under the Gold Dome about additional funding for roads and transit through the Great Recession until today, says the state needs to take “bold steps” to help people and goods move throughout the state. Transit, particularly bus-rapid transit, should play a role in the larger transportation network, he says, and the state should develop a plan to determine what works best. He’s already floated the idea of tunneling under the east side of metro Atlanta to alleviate traffic, a proposal that is sure to face opposition.
Term-limited Governor Nathan Deal endorsed Cagle as his successor on June 16, saying the challenge of the next governor will be “to not go backwards, but to go forward. And for that reason, I believe Casey Cagle will be the best candidate.”
Photograph courtesy of Brian Kemp Campaign
Meet Brian Kemp
Kemp, 53, grew up in Athens and attended the University of Georgia, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in agriculture. Appointed as Georgia secretary of state in 2010 and elected to the position later that year, he previously served in the Georgia Senate from 2003 until 2007. He owns Kemp Properties, an Athens-based real estate agency, and other companies in agribusiness and financial services and investment.
Kemp has chosen to cast himself this election cycle as the “politically incorrect conservative”—a tactic that appears to be working if recent polls showing him leading Cagle are accurate. Kemp caught national attention for a controversial advertisement that depicts him jokingly threatening a young man who is interested in dating one of his daughters. Kemp points a shotgun at the teenager and asks him to recite the largest planks of his platform and two qualities he must have to date Kemp’s daughter—”respect and a healthy appreciation for the Second Amendment.” Critics called the ad insensitive, especially in the wake of school shootings and gun violence across the country. But Kemp’s supporters and social media followers found his vocal defiance of political correctness refreshing. Like Cagle, Kemp has an A+ rating from the NRA.
More recently, some Cagle supporters—led by Republican state Senator Renee Unterman of Buford—called for criminal investigations into donations Kemp received from business leaders in industries that he regulates as Georgia secretary of state. Unterman also alleged a “quid pro quo scenario” after Kemp attended a fundraiser hosted by the then owner of two Massage Envy locations that employed therapists accused of sexual harassment. Kemp’s campaign maintained that he had not violated any campaign finance laws by accepting the donations or attending the fundraiser.
Despite favoring Wisconsin’s GOP-designed expansion program as a Georgia state senator, Kemp now says he opposes any expansion to Medicaid. He called for repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and says in his New Day for Rural Georgia campaign, launched in 2017, that he supports “Georgia-focused, free-market based healthcare reform that will lower costs and expand service and options” and that he will “grow tele-medicine, support incentives for medical providers in rural Georgia, and work with community leaders to save struggling hospitals.”
On education, Kemp aligns with Cagle on his views on standardized testing, charter schools, and school choice. Kemp supports increasing the tax-credit cap on nonprofit organizations that fund scholarships for students to attend private schools his New Day in Rural Georgia plan includes support for doubling these scholarships and promoting charter schools in rural areas with underperforming public schools. He has also been vocal with plans to end Common Core, a federal math and reading standard used by 40 other states that critics such as influential teachers’ union the National Education Association argue limits students and hamstrings teachers. Kemp has also promised to appoint councils of parents and teachers for “immediate” review of current education standards including Common Core, launch a test-run of Educational Saving Account initiatives among military families, reduce standardized testing, and more.
Though transportation is among Kemp’s priorities, he is skeptical as to whether the state should provide the stepped-up funding it only recently started giving to transit systems to operate buses and boost MARTA stations. He’s argued that cash for transit is best generated on the local level.
What Does It Mean to Be South Asian in the New American South? | Nonfiction
It is undisputed that the American South has long struggled with issues of color. Its history is deep with painful and bottomless scars. Today this region is home to a diverse spectrum of people of color as various ethnicities call this their home. This includes thousands of South Asians—more than 100,000 in metro Atlanta alone. Many South Asians had immigrated to the United States prior to the mid-1960s, and more came to the United States after the 1965 Immigration Act was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson. Largely representing India and Pakistan, doctors, researchers and other professionals—people who had the means to a good education first, and then the means to travel out of the country immigrated to cities like Boston, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and into robust university towns where scholarly achievement was valued more than elsewhere.
South Asian immigrants, a very small minority then, remained sheltered, and often struggled with access to amenities, primarily because of their obvious unfamiliarity of a foreign culture. Some of their earliest struggles included limited access to ethnic groceries, social isolation, and often, depression. Jibes often came from locals and political leaders, who used racial divides and lingering segregation tactics to “other” any non-white identities.
As these once young immigrants aged, they sought warmer regions and many settled in the American South. As they acclimatized to this region, and as their children grew up to become contributing community members, they also wondered: what did it really mean to be a South Asian in the American South?
The South Asian community is often characterized by its friendly and social ways, and its business acumen. Of the many ways it contributes to the richness of the American South, they have found a genteel balance between their identities, and ways to share space with those around them. They are visible in all walks of life, contributing to the workforce just as much as anyone else—from working in a grocery store or gas station, to being teachers in the public school system, and also holding white-collar jobs and owning businesses.
This community has found integrative, positive ways to become part of the cultural makeup of the new American South. Unlike their challenges from nearly six decades ago, dozens of ethnic stores can be spotted in every town with a large supermarket. There are places of worship and routine public cultural events that highlight the diversity of their inherited culture, all shared in what is their adopted homeland, to make a thriving community.
The desire for representation and nostalgia is strong on many fronts, and the community strives to make it available to consumers recognizing the complexity of the region. What was once exotic, a novelty, or foreign has now become something accessible, familiar and often, homegrown, based right here in the American South. A culture steeped in hospitality, tradition, and strong connections to home, both near and far, the South Asian diaspora has translated its love of community connections into tangible forms that engages its friends and neighbors.
One way is through food. Many use their cultural duality to showcase their blended personalities and lives on a plate. Many chefs of Indian or South Asian origin who call the American South their home have been nominated this year alone for the James Beard Award, a growing trend. The award represents the gold standard of excellence in the culinary profession, and has showcased that the South Asian culinary scene goes far beyond the strip mall “curry” joints and packaged versions of “curry powder.” They shine more light onto the fact that two culinary worlds can seamlessly blend to create a refreshingly inspired cuisine.
The American South is also home to many authors of South Asian origin, who use their platform to shine light on their culturally complex roots and contemporary life. They use their words to invite readers into their corner of the world, and extend their perspective into mediums of mass consumption with a single mission, to erase discrimination and influence positive growth.
As a food writer and author who now calls the American South her home, I see a strong presence of the South Asian community in both these disciplines. But overall regional reach and name recognition in the masses and in our own home communities is limited.
When I contributed content to Sunday spread in a local news article some time ago, my contribution filtered to the bottom of the list, obviously weighted by celebrity status. However, the writer later admitted to me he did not know that I was a local food writer, even though I had been writing for several years and had lived in metro Atlanta for more than a decade! I remember being uncomfortably stared down in a fine dining restaurant in small town Georgia as I dined with my family after a reading at the local bookshop next door, for no other reason except that my family and I were a shade too brown. Our presence made “them” uncomfortable, but no one asked “us” how we felt being othered, being the center of loud and obnoxious whispers clearly aimed at us, the adults, but also horrifyingly at our self-conscious pre-teen daughter. In the recent past, many local law enforcement agencies did not regard the seriousness of the spate of burglaries targeted at South Asians as cause for concern, action or even inquiry. We were a victim of such a burglary, and I am saddened not only by the dispassion towards us, but also towards each of the hundreds of victims like us spread across the entire region, victimized over a span of more than 10 years.
Whether by design or coincidence, a recent Food & Wine Festival showcased only a handful of chefs who took on the hefty burden of representing and paying homage to their culinary roots, and the vast and dynamic South Asian cuisine they loved and had inherited. Each year, America’s largest independent book festival, the Decatur Book Festival, sees only a handful of authors of South Asian descent on the front stage, or represented in the author booths, even though the organizers have been trying to change these optics. This lack of representation is more common in micro-regional book festivals in the American South, the very destinations more accessible to a local community that seldom recognizes the diversity of their own neighbors.
In a regional, food-centered academic group, I have seen little representation of South Asian food traditions, even though the community has been part of this region for more than half a century. I see fewer cooking schools embrace communities of South Asian descent, as they would others. Some would rather pay a premium to bring in a personal chef who teaches European cuisines from afar, than invite a local chef, author, or teacher of South Asian descent. Many establishments don’t venture outside their sheltered spaces or concepts of color and people of color. There are fewer opportunities to showcase the work of South Asians outside galleries or museums. Print, audio, and visual media seldom cover cultural events, unless it is to showcase a world-renowned artist, the event helps a political office and their public relations, or if the issue/event evokes shock or horror. I seldom see representations of South Asian entities in local print magazines, unless it is an ethnic magazine. In some cases, it even appears that these agencies subtly alter eligibility criteria to control inclusion, coverage, and/or representation. South Asians seldom see themselves represented in power positions in the media that represent communities they are working to build, helping prosper, even though they hold positions that impact the growth of the community—at whatever scale is being measured—city, county or state. These acts subtly reinforce the othering notion among those who solely rely on the limited scope of these powerful agencies.
On some days, it appears that the American South has still not come to terms with the cultural identities of those who don’t look like them, particularly in the fringe of urban communities where the old and the new collide. Some rely on the ruins of colonialism to reinforce the ideas of a colored individual, suggesting servitude or submission, simultaneously challenging their rights, ownership, and rightful place in this region. Some support the unspoken Southern culture that reinforces inaccurate stereotypes offering only marginal representation, if any, to people of color, particularly brown people. Even in this day, curios from a colonized, underprivileged, romanticized, nineteenth-century vision of the South Asian community remain scattered in the rural American South in vintage shops and parlors. First and second-generation immigrant visitors can only cringe in disgust. Much like the curios themselves, their existence is politely accepted, like a decorative novelty, but most often brushed away in a polite Southern nonchalance. It is not that intentions are misplaced, but that their tainted history is not recognized, acknowledged, or considered important enough to be regarded. This, even though it is clear that the American South is no longer just black and white. It is never okay to display a statuette of a dark-skinned, semi-clothed turbaned individual in a place of hospitality that is meant to welcome all.
I wonder about the essence and the true meaning and continuity of the term “Southern hospitality” in this day. A region that often struggles with its own identity, many are unable to see the larger picture of how far they have come from the dark days where discrimination, discord, and othering was common—where equal rights were ignored. Is it still about magnolia-lined streets and tea rooms that serve sweet tea in the late afternoons, but allow dark shadows to emerge at night? Or is Southern hospitality more than that?
I feel there can be, there is, room for everyone in this new American South. The American South presently encompasses the spectrum of colors and is a vibrant, thriving region that has the capacity to embrace all. I feel that the new American South can work towards representing a robust community that needs no specific reason, date, event, venue, festivity or celebrity to celebrate each other, except in rejoicing in their shared humanity, and that they all call the American South “home.”
Image credit: “Black Eyed Peas With Poori” © Nandita Godbole 2019
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Food festival celebrates Southern vegetables
Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and author of “The Slim Down South Cookbook.” Email her at [email protected]
"The larger the radish, the spicier it is. Who here is afraid of radishes?" asked Rebecca Lang, author of The Southern Vegetable Cookbook. Leading a sold-out class on "Vegetable Versatility" at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Lang saw no hands in the air.
This was a room full of food fans eager to learn veggie-centric cooking tips from chef Todd Richards of Atlanta’s White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails and visiting chef Digby Stridiron of the U.S. Virgin Islands. While Stridiron sliced into plantains and advised, “Buy the green ones in the market and let them ripen at home,” Richards passed samples of English pea soup garnished with fresh pea tendrils and said, “We try to use as much of the whole vegetable together.”
In its sixth year, the festival features Southern chefs and entertains guests with farm-to-table dinners, cooking classes and wine, beer and spirits tastings. There’s plenty of roast pig and peach cobbler to please, but there’s a celebration of the lighter side of the South, too. “Everyone thinks of pork first, but vegetables are the surprising foundation of Southern foods,” said chef Linton Hopkins of Atlanta’s Holman & Finch Public House and newly opened Linton’s in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “I love vegetables and right now I’m excited about peas, especially lady peas.”
No longer destined to be ‘cooked to death’ and coated in bacon fat, Southern vegetables are elegantly prepared today.
Instead of fatback, chef Rob McDaniel of Spring House on Alabama’s Lake Martin adds flavor with smoked turkey or chicken. McDaniel smoked whole beets in a Big Green Egg to make a beet sandwich with celery and blue cheese slaw. “Grilling is a great way to enhance vegetables because earthy and smoky flavors go really well together,” said McDaniel.
In the festival’s tasting tents, chef Josh Quick of Odette in Florence, Ala., garnished a golden lentil salad with Gulf shrimp relish and a tiny touch of ham.
Salt and sugar are still part of the recipe when cooking a ‘mess of greens’ but Arkansas chef Mark Abernathy of Red Door restaurant in Little Rock cautioned, “You can always add more later. You can’t take it out. The sweet and salty flavors will concentrate as the greens cook, so have a lighter touch.”
Atlanta's New Southern Cuisine
Wisteria is my favorite new place to go to not be gouged by the wine lists retail mark up. My husband and I love dining out and trying new food, but most importantly we appreciate a great bargain and a great wine. Well, Wisteria gets my vote on all three categories. GREAT FOOD we had the sea scallops to share, a wonderful roasted winter beet salad (my god how do some people hate beets?) and both of us couldn't pass up doing our southern interpretation of "surf and turf" which included shrimp and grits, and beef tenderloin served with macaroni and cheese. Our server, the big guy with the beard (sorry, I can't remember his name) was excellent and actually told us his favorites. He also suggested we could close our eyes and point to anything on the menu and we would be very happy. I think he might be right. GREAT WINE we started off with two glasses of an Austrian Rose' Sparkling wine. amazing. Our waiter then suggested a moderately priced Italian Cabernet/Sangiovese blend. I think our waiter might know us from another life as he asked just three simple questions and was able to suggest the best wine for our budget, tastes, and food. GREAT PRICE the portions are huge, the prices are moderate, and the wine isn't marked up so high that you feel like you were a victim of highway robbery. Needless to say we wish we would of found this gem years ago, but I promise we will be back at least a couple times a month.
Food Writers and Experts on What's Hot and What's Over
After dispensing with the year's best meals, the best dining cities, and untold stories, Eater's survey of 2012 continues with a discussion of what's relevant in restaurants around the world. And what's over. There's plenty of enthusiasm for fermentation, for good sourcing as a given and not a plus, regional cooking, and an emphasis on vegetables. Things that are on their way out — or should be on their way out — include communal tables, fatty food, the obsession with New Nordic Cuisine, and overly-manipulated food. The full results:
Alexandra Forbes, Food Editor of GQ Brazil:
Today's most influential chefs have moved far beyond the farm-to-table cliché. They not only have close relationships with their suppliers, which allow them to get products unlike anybody else's, totally customized, but they also have an in-depth knowledge of how to manipulate these products in uncommon ways, through curing, fermenting, smoking, dry-aging, etc. Alex Atala, in Brazil (restaurant D.O.M.) is experimenting with aging fish, while Magnus Nilsson lets the meat of old dairy cows mature for up to six months at his restaurant Faviken, in Sweden. David Chang, of the Momofuku empire, makes his own katsuobushi with pork instead of bonito, and has been applying his extensive research in microbiology to experiments in fermenting all sorts of foods. Noma's René Redzepi cooks up old carrots grown especially for him that sit in the ground for a year or even longer. Daniel Patterson of San Francisco's COI makes his own garum (fermented fish sauce).
Sustainable meats and fishes are in, including those that are farm-raised organically (American caviar, Scottish salmon), as opposed to carelessly (Thai shrimp farms). What's over in restaurants is putting endangered fish on the menu (Chilean Sea Bass, monkfish, bluefin tuna), although you still see it hapenning a lot, especially in cities without a strong gastronomic scene.
Allecia Vermillion, Food & Drink Editor at Seattle Met:
Janice Leung, blogger behind e_ting in Hong Kong:
Relevant: 1) The evolution of Asian food - with restaurants like Mission Chinese Food at the forefront, mashing up different aspects of Asian cuisine and moving it forward into completely new territory. 2) Farms & Producers - restaurants on farms or with their own farms or gardens, and/or very close relationships with farms, all becoming the norm, not a hippy niche. 3) Canelés. 4) Pairing food with a whole range of drinks, not just wine - sake, whisk(e)y, juice.
Over: 1) Extreme food/eating and extreme foodies - eating bugs, kopi luwak, etc. 2) Thoughtless fusion, like adding a bok choi for an "Asian" touch, calling anything on a disc of dough a taco. 3) Bacon, macarons, cupcakes.
Andrew Zimmern, Host of Bizarre Foods:
Health and nutrition are hot, relevant and will be more and more important to diners in coming years. Everyone loves fatty scrumptious BBQ, but as the year progresses, people will be turning torward the Korean model rather than the American one — smaller portions, lots of acidic and fermented foods served with them, etc. Diners will be making smarter and smarter choices as the years progress because there is so much more information available.
What's over? Well, God willing, we won't have to hear more about raw foods, or terms like 'small plates', 'foodies', or 'farm-to-table' experiences. Hopefully New Nordic Cuisine is done — oy vey, it tires me so much. Foods from the Nordic countries is phenomenal and so are many of the chefs/restos, but the media trumpeting of these styles is almost embarrassingly loud.
Bonjwing Lee, photographer and blogger behind the Ulterior Epicure:
A focus on fermenting foods seems to have really taken off in the last year or two, which I find interesting given that it's a shockingly basic and fundamental technique for preserving foods and increasing flavor that is common to many (especially older) cultures. Chefs, now, are fermenting all manner of ingredients, many to great effect. There's a great little shop in Berkeley, California called the Cultured Pickle that is fermenting everything from vegetables to grains and fruits, making miso and kimchi out of the most unlikely ingredients. Chefs also seem to be obsessed with aging meats now too. I think the South is on the rise again (culinarily, of course). And diners are becoming popular again.
I'm not sure that the world is over the whole 'modernist' cooking movement, but I'm over it, more or less. The whole hipster-style service was mildly entertaining for a hot minute I'm (way) over that too. I guess no one cares about macarons anymore (remember when everyone did?). And the fascination with gastropubs and speak-easies seems to have waned, even in the interior of the country, which is usually a year or two behind the coasts.
Kate Krader, Food & Wine Restaurant Editor:
Has there ever been a better time to eat pasta in the US? Every chef in America seems to have gotten their hands on a pasta extruder and is going crazy. We have supersonic pastas in NYC (Perla, Il Buco, L'Apicio, Battersby, and continually from Del Posto, Torrisi, Locanda, Marea). And now Carbone is coming. I was just in SF and had ridiculous pastas from Michael Tusk at Cotogna and got to taste some of the new dishes that Gerard Craft is doing at Pastaria. This is not the time to be on a low carb diet.
And Mexican food! Alex Stupak! And the other NYC chefs who are mastering tacos: Josh Capon (who makes sure to shout out his dishwashers), April Bloomfield, even the guys at Mission Chinese!
I also love all the burnt ingredients in dishes (my grandmother always burnt her roast chicken – it's nostalgic for me) and how smart people are getting with Scandanavian influences instead of trying (unsuccessfully) to copy dishes they read about from René and Magnus.
More from the high-carb world: The bakery situation is off the hook. I loved Craftsman & Wolves and Kneaded in SF euphoric about Bien Cuit expansion.
Jim Meehan and I are working on F&W Cocktails 2013, which this year focuses on new bars, so that's one of my bigger obsessions right now. In NYC, I love Pouring Ribbons and their insane chartreuse collection also psyched about Dead Rabbit in NYC. And around the country, impatiently waiting on Polite Provisions from Eric Castro in San Diego in Houston, Julep from Bobby Heugel Trick Dogs from the Bon Vivant team in SF Three Dots and a Dash tiki drinks in Chicago and whatever Eric Alperin and Chris Bostick are going to do in Austin. And yay for the new Broken Shaker in Miami.
I'm super happy that we have the return of the 80s food and drink vibe. Mission Chinese Food says their new liquor license means Sex on the Beach shots.
What's out: I know burgers will never die but I'm happy that I haven't read about a new star chef burger place for a while. Instead, chefs are spotlighting chicken! So psyched about Sean Doty's Bantam + Biddy in ATL, as well as Georgette Farkas's upcoming rotisserie in NYC, and Stephanie Izard's chicken spot in Chicago.
James Casey, Swallow Magazine:
Ryan Sutton, Bloomberg News Restaurant Critic:
I'm really stoked about all the chefs who've been messing around with (apologies) ethnic or regional cuisines these past few years. I'm talking about what chef Alex Raij is doing with at La Vara, with that restaurant's Sephardic and Moorish influences. I'm talking about the good work of Alex Stupak to give a voice to modern Mexican food, and everything that Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi are doing to elevate Italian-American fare. I've never bought into the ridiculous and ethnocentric argument that certain cuisines are meant to be cheap or rustic cuisines. Every cuisine has a right to change, a right to be expensive.
What's over? Entrees. I hate entrees. I always have and I probably always will. They're too big and I get bored too quickly. Small plates and tapas-style portions are the way of the future. Though I don't mind larger shared plates either, because it divorces everyone at the table of the false notion that the dish in front of you belongs to you. It doesn't, son. It belongs to all of us, because either I'm paying, in which case it definitely doesn't belong to you, or we're all splitting the bill equally and there's no way I'm subsidizing your 25-oz steak with my smoked spelt or crab timbale with cilantro dust. Unless, that is, I get a nice size cut of your steak. All of these funny little 'Manhattan people problems' are solved by serving everything family style.
Amanda Kludt, Eater Editorial Director:
This isn't a 'hot' trend like foraging or advanced 'ice programs', but I'm happy to see the continued spread of ambitious projects outside of the expected areas of New York, Chicago, SF, and LA. Those who knew where to look could always find great food across the country but now more than ever you can find very serious, very delicious, at times groundbreaking restaurants in Houston, Nashville, Charleston, Boston, Seattle, and elsewhere.
Over: Pop-ups, burger fetishism, kid chefs. And I'll begin to hope that communal tables will be over by this time next year.
Ian Froeb, St. Louis Riverfront Times Critic:
Matt Buchanan, BuzzFeed FWD Editor:
Mike Thelin, Feast PDX Festival Co-Organizer:
Edmund Tijerina, San Antonio Express-News Restaurant Critic:
Authenticity. The most exciting places I have visited are those that either reflect a chef's particular taste and personality, or that bring a sense that the people cooking and managing truly care about what they're doing.
What's over? Too many damn ingredients or techniques on a plate that don't make sense together. I know that's been over for years, but some places still haven't received the memo.
Helen Rosner, Saveur Senior Web Editor:
It's not so much that I think seasonal cuisine is over. But I do basically think it's a given, at a certain level and style of restaurant, and chefs should no longer get extra credit for revising their menus three times a year. That doesn't make you market-driven, it just makes you not Applebee's.
This sounds silly, but I'm serious: we're having kind of a condiment moment right now. I love seeing chefs set aside their egos and outsourcing some of their culinary creativity to specialists, and then showing off their good taste in collaborators: proudly advertising that they serve McClure's pickles, or use Bittercube bitters, or Lior Lev Sercarz's spice blends. It's not just farmers who get pride of place on the menu anymore. I think that's only going to grow as the boom in artisanal, small-batch, commercially-available condiments keeps on booming.
Amber Ambrose, Writer and Former Editor of Eater Houston:
Non-traditionally segmented menus. Instead of appetizers, entrees, soups, salads, etc., more restaurants are moving to a format that allows diners to order whatever they want, whenever they want. Tasting menus, at least here in Houston. Within one year Uchi, Triniti, Oxheart, and "The Pass" part of dual-concept restaurant The Pass & Provisions opened, and all are tasting menu-heavy if not tasting menu-only. Craft beer has hit a saturation point, not that I'm complaining. You know it's mainstream when the Chili's out in the suburbs is hosting rare beer tappings. No, seriously, that's happening here.
What's over: maybe they're over, maybe they're not, but I wouldn't mind if 'fancy' foams went the way of the dinosaurs. Along those lines, the term and the practice of molecular gastronomy seems to be evolving in a positive way. More maturity, more thoughtfulness, less shock value, better technique. It's not over, it's just changing, and for the better.
Regina Schrambling, Food Writer:
Trite as it sounds, sourcing seems more important than ever. I don't want to risk beef or pork unless I know it's been raised right, or salmon if it's just chicken of the sea. Even eggs in restaurants scare me unless the menu lists where they come from they're too often rentals. With more and more farms threatened by fracking (the Nation took a great look at it), too, people need to constantly think about where their food comes from and maybe do something about keeping it safe.
I also hope chefs working for big names and then going back to their hometowns to elevate the food scene will become a big deal. (As Dante Boccuzzi apparently has in the Cleveland area.) You don't have to just make it in New York.
As for over, I can only wish for an end to the small plates/big prices nonsense and to the burgers blighting every menu and every corner. Also, too, to the din in dinner. I can't remember a thing I ate at my last meal at Tertulia, only that I never heard a word. Show some respect for your food.
Adrian Moore, Mandarin Oriental Paris Concierge and Food Writer:
Ben Leventhal, Eater Co-Founder:
Per-Anders and Lotta Jorgensen, Editors of Fool Magazine:
Chefs creating independently rather than anxiously looking at what others do. Great examples of truly creative forces are Christian Puglisi (Relæ, Copenhagen), Nicolaus Balla (Bar Tartine, San Francisco) and Angel Leon (Aponiente, El Puerto del Santa Maria). We also love the growing interest in fine tuning/exploring coffee and tea, as well as innovative alcohol-free pairings.
When René Redzepi tweets 'None of the guests today for lunch had their smartphone out - what a bunch of freaks!' is that the start of a new dawn?
I'm intrigued by the rise of the mini-empire: people like Dale Talde, Ashley Christensen, Linton Hopkins — all of whom have have been able to open multiple venues, with each with a distinct point of view, and maintain control over the execution at each.
I also cannot bang the drum loudly enough for heirloom Southern products — sorghum, field peas, hominy, rice grits, cane syrup, etc. If NYC and other Northeast cities are going to be capitalizing on Southern dishes, they might as well do their damndest to source well. (Rob Newton at Seersucker does this better than anyone in NYC.)
Charlotte Druckman, WSJ writer and Skirt Steak author:
I think the pendulum of savory desserts will swing back toward more savories appropriating dessert techniques, along the lines of the marrow bread pudding at the Macintosh in Charleston, SC. Look for apps along the lines of a flan spiked with house-made Worcestershire.
I think we are very close to banh mi saturation, in that folks are putting whatever between two slices of french bread and calling it banh mi. I fear that non-Vietnamese eaters will stop going to classic banh mi spots, and some of those places might suffer as a result.
Robbie Swinnerton, Japan Times columnist and Tokyo Food File blogger:
In Tokyo, pop-ups and collaborations (involving visiting chefs from other countries) are in. For example, Esben H. Bang from Maaemo (Oslo) pop-up at Fuglen Dan Cox from L'Enclume/Aulis (UK) pop-up with Libushi Thorsten Schmidt (Malling & Schmidt, Århus, Denmark) collaboration with Yoshihiro Narisawa. Also hot: Craft beer Japanese wine premium sake (nihonshu). Younger diners are rediscovering a taste for sake.
What's over? Over-adulation of things foreign wine with everything.