“For me, the hallmark of food in literature, raised to the level of art, is food interacting with character. Food as character. Food doing stuff. Food being stuff. Just as it happens with our flesh and blood, our mouths and our bellies and our memories. The best writers, the better writers, know that food is identity. Food is alive. Food is us.”
Randall Kenan first delivered this talk at the 2018 Southern Foodways Symposium on food and literature in Oxford, Mississippi. A professor of creative writing at UNC Chapel Hill, he is the author or editor of half a dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, including A Visitation of Spirits and Let the Dead Bury Their Dead.
Gravy shares stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat. Gravy showcases a South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions, and lovingly maintaining old ones. It uses food as a means to explore all of that, to dig into lesser-known corners of the region, complicate stereotypes, document new dynamics, and give voice to the unsung folk who grow, cook, and serve our daily meals.