Vivian heads to Charleston, S.C. to cook a special dinner honoring the late pioneering African American chef, Edna Lewis. At the event, she serves grits, the simple Southern staple among the many foods Lewis famously exalted.
While in Charleston, Vivian learns how a grain as humble as rice gave the port city a distinction within the sordid history of slavery. Vivian gets the chance to learn from chef B.J. Dennis, a champion of Geechee and Gullah cuisine found on the isolated barrier islands off the coast of South Carolina. Over plates of shark and grits, Vivian and Dennis discuss how Geechee and Gullah foodways and culture have shaped the menus of Charleston’s black-owned restaurants. She and Dennis sit down with a group of African American chefs and food writers to herald the unsung, foundational contributions African Americans have made to Southern cuisine and discuss the term “soul food.”
Vivian then ventures to Savannah, Ga. to see chef Mashama Bailey’s decadent take on another porridge — rice middlins — and discuss the differences between Southern and soul food. During a visit to Edisto Island just south of Charleston, BJ Dennis takes Vivian to meet Emily Meggett, the matriarch of the Edisto Geechees, who serves up a traditional dish cooked on her wood-fired stove: crab grits. Vivian takes these lessons back to her own home and shares breakfast and a new perspective with her family.
Crab and Tomato Gravy over Grits
- American as Hand Pie As Vivian tries to mass produce hand pies, she learns the historical ties between this convenience food, labor and migration.
- Porridge for the Soul At a dinner honoring Edna Lewis, Vivian gives porridge the royal treatment and honors African American contributions to Southern food.
- Dumpling Dilemma Vivian quickly learns that while dumplings are hard to define, they stretch our ingredients and our imagination.
- What a Pickle Vivian ponders how so many meals are brightened by pickles, including achaar, kimchi and escabeche.
- It’s a Greens Thing Vivian travels from North Carolina to Georgia to learn the roots of Southern hospitality and the goodness greens provide.
- How Do You ‘Cue? Vivian knows North Carolina whole hog barbecue but trips to Florida and Texas expands her idea of what barbecue is and how it’s done.