I’m just back from this year’s conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals with a fistful of business cards, loads of notes scribbled during myriad sessions and panels, and the memories of some fine conversations and really good food (thanks, Louisville!). One other thing I returned with that was a profound honor and totally unexpected—the award for Best Food Writing, Personal Essays/Memoir, for “Churnin’.”
As I reached the stage to collect my certificate and a kiss on the cheek from hosts Top Chef Carla Hall and Washington Post Food and Dining Editor Joe Yonan, I realized that the microphone was right there in front of me, awaiting whatever I had to say—and that this was something I forgot prepare for. YIKES!
I managed okay, giving a shout-out to the writers of all those naughty blues songs about food that aren’t really about food. Those songs had inspired me to write the winning essay, some with chuckleworthy titles like “Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me” and “My Stove’s In Good Condition.” Some made it into the essay, while others provided sublime background music as I wrote.
I’d like to share my *Dirty Dozen with you, all quirky examples of yet another way–and a truly imaginative one—in which to use food.
*This playlist is on Spotify, but if you don’t have an account, you should be able to find these songs elsewhere on the internet with a little searching:
“Keep On Churnin’ Til the Butter Comes,” by Wynonie Harris
“I Need a Little Sugar In My Bowl,” by Bessie Smith
“All That Meat and No Potatoes,” by Fats Waller
“My Stove’s In Good Condition,” by Lil Johnson
“It Must Be Jelly ‘Cos You Know Jam Don’t Shake, by Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon
“Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me,” by Bo Carter
“I Like My Baby’s Pudding,” by Wynonie Harris
“Lean Meat Won’t Fry,” by Memphis Minnie
“Lollypop,” by Hunter & Jenkins
“Sam the Hot Dog Man,” by Lil Johnson
“Banana In Your Fruit Basket,” by Bo Carter
“Coffee Grindin’ Blues,” by Lucille Bogan