Gravy is a biweekly podcast that tells stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat.


  • The Miracle of Slaw and Fishes: Louisiana’s Lenten Fish Fries

    The Miracle of Slaw and Fishes: Louisiana’s Lenten Fish Fries

    21/05/2020 Duración: 19min

    Order a catfish po-boy or a few pounds of crawfish in Acadiana any Friday between Mardi Gras and Easter, and you may be surprised to learn that your delight is another person’s sacrifice. The Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat during Fridays in Lent is alive and well in Southwest Louisiana, a region where more than a third identify as Catholic. Thanks to the long list of Catholic churches and restaurants that roll out an array of delectable seafood options on Lenten Fridays, it’s not much of a burden. St. Francis of Assisi in Breaux Bridge and the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Pius X in Lafayette both have long-standing Lenten fish fry traditions that bring together their communities and welcome anyone hungry for fried catfish, regardless of religion. Olde Tyme Grocery in Lafayette sells close to 2,300 seafood po-boys during the 40-day period. Religious abstinence never tasted so good. This episode of Gravy is reported and produced by Sarah Holtz.

  • Ten Gallons and a Bag of Cracklins: Filling Up in Cajun Country

    Ten Gallons and a Bag of Cracklins: Filling Up in Cajun Country

    14/05/2020 Duración: 19min

    Along the highways and rural byways of South Louisiana, there’s great boudin, cracklins, and plenty more to be found. Many of these food destinations have one thing in common -- they’re found within gas stations. Acadiana’s roadside stops attract thousands of customers each day, whether they’re travelers making a pilgrimage across the state to fill their ice boxes with boudin, or oil and gas workers stopping for a bag of cracklins before heading out to the refinery or offshore rig. Cajun gas station fare is not fast food, it’s not fine dining, and it’s not quite a plate lunch, either. It’s a category unto itself, and as it turns out, these gas stations speak volumes about the diverse communities of Acadiana. 

  • Eat Em Till You Beat Em: Florida’s Lionfish Problem

    Eat 'Em Till You Beat 'Em: Florida’s Lionfish Problem

    19/03/2020 Duración: 20min

    Poisonous, spiky, bug-eyed and edible: Lionfish are a prolific invasive species off the coast of Florida. Their voracious appetites are destroying native reef fish populations, leaving decimated reefs in their wake. Chefs and concerned eaters are attempting to eat their way through this problem. You can find items like lionfish sushi, poached and broiled lionfish, and lionfish dumplings on menus throughout South Florida. Reporter Wilson Sayre takes us to the Florida Keys to catch a few lionfish and see how much of a bite diners are taking out of the problem.

  • Grape Expectations for Virginia Wine

    Grape Expectations for Virginia Wine

    12/03/2020 Duración: 24min

    Virginia is often heralded as the birthplace of American wine. But from colonial times through efforts made by Thomas Jefferson, those efforts were seen as a failure. The archetypical image of wine country—arid, rocky places—is not what one thinks of when conjuring images of wet, humid, Virginia summers.  But a few pioneering grape growers and winemakers have made huge strides over the past few decades, giving wine enthusiasts a taste for Virginia terroir.  Reporter Wilson Sayre explores this history and evolution of wine from the Old Dominion.

  • Sorghum: Planting Possibilities

    Sorghum: Planting Possibilities

    05/03/2020 Duración: 23min

    For many people in the American South, sorghum is a condiment to be spread, like maple syrup, on top of warm, pillowy biscuits, pancakes, and cornbread. But for most of the world, particularly in West Africa, sorghum is a grain used much like rice or quinoa. There is a growing group of chefs, millers, plant breeders, and farmers that is trying to reconnect with the West African roots of sorghum and create gastronomic and growing opportunities in this region. Reporter Wilson Sayre explains how sorghum might again become a grain of the American South. 

  • The Rise and Fall and Rise of Pitmaster Ed Mitchell

    The Rise and Fall and Rise of Pitmaster Ed Mitchell

    27/02/2020 Duración: 24min

    Ed Mitchell’s name has come to be synonymous with Eastern North Carolina wood-smoked whole-hog barbecue. From Wilson, North Carolina, he grew up smoking hogs and has tried to continue that tradition, using old techniques and traditionally farm-raised pigs. But almost since the start, Ed Mitchell’s barbeque journey has not been a straight line—business relationships, racism, and smoke have all shaped his rollercoaster ride.

  • Greetings from Ham  Bacon High School

    Greetings from Ham & Bacon High School

    20/02/2020 Duración: 23min

    How much is too much for bacon? $10 a pound? $20? What about $500 a pound? In New Martinsville, West Virginia someone actually paid $500 a pound at auction for bacon raised and butchered under pretty special circumstances. The bacon, along with ham and eggs, sold at this auction are raised and butchered by high schoolers as part of their school curriculum. Reporter Corey Knollinger tell us the story of what it takes to compete in the Wetzel County Ham, Bacon, and Egg show. 

  • Harassment and the Service Economy

    Harassment and the Service Economy

    18/12/2019 Duración: 20min

    In restaurants, economics and sexual harassment are intimately entwined. Restaurants, along with hotels, have the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry. For a tipped worker, in particular, how and how much one gets paid can determine how empowered one feels to respond against harassment. We delve into why restaurants pay servers just $2.13 per hour and how that affects how they deal with bad clients. And we look at why money might not be the only culprit when it comes to harassment.   

  • Spinning Carolina Gold Rice into Sake

    Spinning Carolina Gold Rice into Sake

    11/12/2019 Duración: 20min

    For much of the 19th Century, Carolina Gold rice was a favorite of American rice growers, before disappearing in the early 20th Century. Brought back to life in the 1980s, it again occupies a much beloved, if niche, place in the South's canon of heirloom ingredients. Now, Hagood Coxe, a daughter of a Carolina Gold farmer, wants to make sake, a Japanese rice wine, out of the grain.

  • Are prison diets punitive? A report from behind bars

    Are prison diets punitive? A report from behind bars

    04/12/2019 Duración: 23min

    Is prison food causing problems for public health? Gravy investigates.

  • Access Denied: Cooperative Extension and Tribal Lands

    Access Denied: Cooperative Extension and Tribal Lands

    27/11/2019 Duración: 23min

    Cooperative extension is a century-old government program that places agricultural agents in counties to educate and work with farmers. But for years, agents failed to show up for Native American communities.

  • Preserving Community Canneries

    Preserving Community Canneries

    20/11/2019 Duración: 19min

    Community canneries–facilities, often subsidized by local government, where people can in bulk–are closing. With groceries easily available even in rural communities, there's less need. And with busy schedules, people have less time for the labor-intensive process of canning their own food. But people who continue to use the still-operational canneries, like Arnold and Donna Lafon, find community and pride in the practice.

  • Mahalia Jacksons Glori-Fried Chicken

    Mahalia Jackson's Glori-Fried Chicken

    05/09/2019 Duración: 24min

    In addition to her work as an international recording artist and civil rights activist, the Queen of Gospel entered the restaurant business in the late 1960s with Mahalia Jackson’s Glori-fried Chicken. The fast food chain was more than a brand extension for the star; it was the first African American-owned franchise in the South. Producer Betsy Shepherd tells how Mahalia used the gospel bird to push for economic empowerment in the black community.

  • Where Mexico Meets Arkansas

    Where Mexico Meets Arkansas

    29/08/2019 Duración: 23min

    Menudo, sopes, gorditas, tortas, gringas, huaraches, mangonadas, and alambres are just some of the specialty dishes of De Queen, Arkansas, population 6,600. A majority of the town's residents are Latino. Many of them migrated from Mexico to southwest Arkansas for jobs in poultry processing plants. Producer Betsy Shepherd attends Fiesta Fest, the town’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, to sample local food and music and to hear stories from the men and women who make it.

  • A Taste of Dollywood

    A Taste of Dollywood

    22/08/2019 Duración: 24min

    Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s Appalachian-themed amusement park, draws millions of country fans and thrill seekers to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, every year. The tourist attraction features roller coasters, live music, folk art demonstrations, and a Dolly museum in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Recently, the park has started marketing itself as a culinary destination. Producer Betsy Shepherd goes on a Dollywood tasting tour to gain insight on her musical idol and experience Dolly’s vision of the mountain South.

  • Electric Tofu

    Electric Tofu

    15/08/2019 Duración: 26min

    In the early 1970s, two hundred hippies from San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood resettled in rural Tennessee. They founded a vegetarian commune and agricultural operation called The Farm. With help from their neighbors and a psychedelic soundtrack from their house band, the back-to-landers got their social experiment off the ground and produced some of the first vegan cookbooks and commercial soy products in the United States. The Farm outlived the Flower Power era to become a model of environmental sustainability and community farming that is still thriving nearly 50 years later. Producer Betsy Shepherd tells how tempeh, experimental rock, midwifery, and the antinuclear movement grew from a seed of West Coast counterculture planted in Southern soil.   

  • Biscuit Blues

    Biscuit Blues

    08/08/2019 Duración: 24min

    Delta blues found its voice and audience on the airwaves of KFFA’s King Biscuit Time, a daily broadcast out of Helena, Arkansas. Bluesmen like Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Lockwood Jr., who would go on to become legends, interspersed their own songs with advertising jingles. King Biscuit Time, which launched in 1941, gave unprecedented exposure to African American musicians while selling everyday grocery staples like flour and cornmeal. And it's still on the air. Reporter-producer Betsy Shepherd travels to Helena to tell the story for Gravy. 

  • The Magical, Meandering Life of Eugene Walter

    The Magical, Meandering Life of Eugene Walter

    30/05/2019 Duración: 25min

    Eugene Walter (1921–1998) of Mobile, Alabama was a novelist, a poet, a playwright, an actor, a costume designer, and a food writer, among myriad vocations and avocations. He had a deep love for the Mobile of his youth, which nurtured his creativity and informed much of his writing. He spent thirty years in Europe, acting in and translating films, hosting and carousing with artists, actors, and literati. Mobile called him home for the last chapter of his life. His surviving friends agree: Walter changed everyone he met. Twenty-one years after his death, producer Sara Brooke Curtis asks: Why don’t more people know about him? 

  • When Menus Talk

    When Menus Talk

    23/05/2019 Duración: 20min

    What do restaurant menus have to say about the identity of a restaurant or the point of view of the chef? It turns out, menus are more nuanced and revealing than we might suspect. They reveal narratives that extend far beyond the bill of fare. They are collectors' items and rich historical documents. They are highly curated and sometimes distinctly engineered texts. They may impact the dining experience more than you think. Reporter Sara Brooke Curtis explores menus as text and menus as literature.

  • Cooking Up Social Change with Julia Turshen

    Cooking Up Social Change with Julia Turshen

    16/05/2019 Duración: 18min

    Can cookbooks be a vehicle for social change? What can or should cookbook writers offer readers beyond recipes? Writer and cookbook author Julia Turshen takes her roles very seriously. She crafts accessible, affordable recipes and coaches readers via social media. She uses her platform to build community, foster equity, honor identity, and pay homage to the cooks and writers who came before her.  Sara Brooke Curtis reported and produced this story. 

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