If you don’t fit in in your rural Kentucky hamlet and don’t have the money to migrate to San Francisco or New Orleans then Berea might be a tolerant place for you to rest your head at night.
Berea College was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South,
Earlier today I put a pair of big hog jowls that I bought from the Berea College Farm Store in a cure of pink salt in the bottom of my fridge. I then made a breakfast of grits that I bought from the same market. I visited Berea twice last month and was fortunate to spend a morning hanging out with Sean Clark, the farm director at Berea College. That Farm Store is a sight to behold, stocked to the rafters with fresh produce, grains grown and milled on the farm and coolers filled with sustainably grown and humanely slaughtered meats.
I nearly spent my entire July grocery budget in there.
Next month, a group of farmers, writers, food historians, chefs and plain old mountain folks will descend on Berea for the 3rd annual Appalachian Food Summit the weekend of September 16th. There’ll be a soup beans and cornbread supper by Chef Edward Lee and Louisville’s Smoke & Soul Pop Up on that Friday.
The next morning beginning at 9:30am the summit will swing back into motion with talks by Gurney Norman, Toni Tipton Martin and Steven Alvarez.
I took a series of classes called A Taste Of African Heritage from Ms. Martin in Austin, Texas and she is a compelling presence on the dais.
Steven Alvarez is a University of Kentucky professor whom I featured here in an article on his efforts to teach taco literacy to university students in Kentucky.
Gurney Norman, a Hazard, Kentucky native penned the counterculture classic “Divine Right’s Trip” which appeared in the 1971 “Last Whole Earth Catalog” It’s required reading for folks who dig Herbert Huncke or other drugged-up, adventure-seeking scribes.
Saturday’s activities conclude with a grand feast produced by chef Travis Milton (who’s standing on the edge of the big time with his large-scale Bristol, Tennessee project slated to open in 2017) as well as Ouita Michel (Holly Hill Inn), Wayne Riley (Grow Appalachia) and Ashley Capps (formerly at Eleven Madison Park) .
I have a distinct feeling that salt-cured ham, greasy beans and sour cornbread could be coming out of that dream team kitchen. And if the stars align perfectly then perhaps Ms Capps will make her world-beating butterscotch pie as a grace note to the summit.
Here’s information on how to attend.
A note to attendees. Berea, Kentucky now allows the sale of alcohol in restaurants and cafes.