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Gravy

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.

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Booze Legends

Striking up a conversation with a stranger in a bar is accepted, even expected. And storytelling is a big part of that engagement. But when it comes to origin stories behind cocktails, Wayne Curtis has noticed a shift in focus over the last ten years. Hand in hand with the recent cocktail revival and the increased professionalization of bartending, an obsession with fact over fancy has emerged. “I started hearing a phrase in bars that I don’t think had ever been uttered before inside a bar: ‘What’s your source on that?’” In this episode of Gravy, Wayne Curtis reflects on what’s lost and gained as cocktail and spirits writers—as well as curious consumers—seek out well-supported history over well-spun stories behind the bar.

26mins

5 Oct 2017

Rank #1

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Hostesses of the Movement

This week’s Gravy podcast looks at hostesses of the Civil Rights Movement. They were school teachers, church ladies and club women who were not direct in their assault of segregation, but nonetheless played a vital role in the change that was to come. While others hit the streets, marching, singing protest songs, and risking arrest, these women made their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in their kitchens. They opened their homes to the architects and strategists of the Movement, providing home cooked meals, places to rest, and safe rooms for plotting attacks on Jim Crow. Rosalind Bentley is a longtime journalist, but she didn’t know how a very special aunt became one of those stealth contributors. She traveled to Albany, Georgia to learn more about how that aunt became one of the Hostesses of the Movement.

39mins

10 Aug 2017

Rank #2

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Mahalia Jackson's Glori-Fried Chicken

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.

24mins

5 Sep 2019

Rank #3

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Kimchi and Cornbread

When you sit down for a meat and three in Montgomery, Alabama, say at the Davis Café, you choose from the menu and you get one plate all for you, but at a Korean table in Montgomery – or anywhere – your plates are all shared. And there are many of them. Meat and six or seven, you might say. Since the Hyundai plant opened in Montgomery in 2005, Koreans have been moving there, some for work at the plant, but others because they see the growing community of Koreans and Korean businesses in this small capital city in Alabama. So, a small southern K-Town is cropping up in the strip malls along the Eastern Boulevard. Reporter and producer, Sarah Reynolds travels to Montgomery to eat at several Korean tables. And Chef Edward Lee joins her – a Korean–American chef who made his name in Louisville, Kentucky. He borrows from Korean and American Southern cuisines to make collards and kimchi, grits and galbi. What’s happening in Montgomery reveals a shared hospitality and love of food between these two cultures.

33mins

21 Sep 2017

Rank #4

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Comfort Food

This week, we bring you Gravy's first foray into fiction. It's a story of macaroni and cheese and maternal love, set in the fictional Canard County, Kentucky.  Robert Gipe is the author of the novels Trampoline and Weedeater. He teaches and coordinates the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community College.  This is the last episode of our summer season. After a short hiatus, Gravy will return with new episodes in the fall. 

22mins

9 Aug 2018

Rank #5

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A Taste of Dollywood

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.

24mins

22 Aug 2019

Rank #6

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A Table for All?

At the FARM Café in Boone, North Carolina, diners can pay $10 for meal—or they can pay nothing. The restaurant, one of dozens of its kind, follows a pay-what-you-can model. Guests can dine regardless of their finances. It's an attempt to address food insecurity. While some have dismissed these restaurants as limited-scale, feel-good attempts to address serious hunger issues, the cafés do foster a sense of community.  Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode. 

19mins

21 Feb 2019

Rank #7

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Hungry in the Mississippi Delta

While civil rights activists worked in Mississippi in 1964, they encountered a poverty they could never have imagined. People were hungry, starving to death from malnutrition, particularly in the Mississippi Delta. Doctors and medical professionals, including Dr. Jack Geiger, joined together to form the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Geiger founded a community health center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi where he and his medical team wrote prescriptions for food, started a farm cooperative, taught nutrition classes, and ultimately reduced hunger in the region. This episode was produced by Sarah Reynolds.

37mins

8 Mar 2018

Rank #8

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Access Denied: Cooperative Extension and Tribal Lands

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.

23mins

27 Nov 2019

Rank #9

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Hostesses of the Movement

The hostesses of the Civil Rights Movement: They were school teachers, church ladies, and club women. Their subtle contributions played a vital role in the change that was to come. While others hit the streets, marching, singing protest songs, and risking arrest, these women made their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in their kitchens. They opened their homes to the architects and strategists of the Movement, providing home cooked meals, places to rest, and safe rooms for plotting attacks on Jim Crow. Rosalind Bentley is a longtime journalist, but she didn’t know how a very special aunt became one of those stealth contributors. She traveled to Albany, Georgia to learn more about how that aunt became one of the Hostesses of the Movement.

39mins

22 Feb 2018

Rank #10

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When Menus Talk

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.

20mins

23 May 2019

Rank #11

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Home-Cooked Expectations

In the United States, home cooked meals with the family are revered almost to the point of fetishization. Dinners are seen as moral imperatives for happy, healthy families. Women, in particular mothers, have been tasked with serving up meals rich with meaning. Yet, as authors Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott write in Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won't Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It, many American women are not happy with their cooking lives. Due to economics and schedules, many mothers are not able to feed their families in the way they've been told they should, which leaves them feeling anxious and inadequate.  Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode. 

23mins

21 Feb 2019

Rank #12

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Agave Diplomacy

Bars mean different things to different people. For some, they are places to find community and discover new ingredients and flavors. They can serve as a gateway for cultural understanding. A group of bar operators in Houston, Texas, use their establishments as vehicles to foster conversation and educate their guests about our neighbors to the south in Mexico. Sean Beck, Bobby Heugel, and Alba Huerta use agave spirits to bridge gaps in divided times. Producer Shanna Farrell explores how their work has ignited interest in Mexican culture alongside craft cocktails. 

23mins

26 Jul 2018

Rank #13

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Stories from the Hem of my Mother's Apron

For Hannah Drake, it all started with a trip to Dakar, Senegal. The author, poet, mother, and native Kentuckian was transformed by the communal experience of simply preparing and eating food with other women. So occasionally she gathers a group of women for dinner. All the women have to do is bring a dish, along with their mother or sister. The goal: To cook and eat a meal with loved ones, and share stories and recipes. Reporter and producer Roxanne Scott brings us today's story.  

25mins

16 Nov 2017

Rank #14