The Celebration of Suffering: Cutting through the Fatback
Below is an announcement that I received via e-mail, followed by my interpretation of it. I have sent my thoughts to the organizers.
On February 29 — on the eve of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival
and the Southern Foodways Alliance
, along with Fatback Collective
members, will pitch their tent in Marion Square Park. The SFA documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. The Fatback Collective is a cadre of the region’s civic-minded food folk. Together, they will serve up: Honest food. Hip films. Good company. Porgy Tosses.
Here’s half the menu. The other half is a secret:
Potlikker, perfumed with Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham
Fatback Pig Project Berkshires, cooked Alabama Asado style
Brown whiskey drinks, shaken to a froth by LeNell Camacho Santa Ana, mistress of cocktails for Little Donkey
, straight outta Birmingham, Alabama
On the screen:
Joe York-directed SFA-produced films:
, a hymn to Tennessee ham and bacon man Allan Benton
, a profile of South Carolina peach farmer and novelist Dori Sanders
, a tale of harvesting paddlefish for their roe on the Mississippi River
, a glimpse at the Interstate Mullet Toss on the Alabama-Florida border
Pride & Joy, a prequel to the hour-long SFA opus on Southern food culture
Tickets, priced at $75 per person, include food, drink, and films, and are ON SALE NOW
. A generous percentage of the proceeds will be benefit local nonprofit Charleston Chefs Feed the Need.
Tickets are available by advance purchase only. Snap them up quickly; last year, they sold out in 4 days. Click here
to buy. Email here
In fact, I do have questions. To what lengths will foodies not go to obscure the suffering of sentient animals in the rationalizations of history, feasting, gluttony, and self-promotion? The advertisement claims that “honest” food will be served, but wouldn’t an honest approach to the meals served at this event reveal that they’re ultimately rooted in the slaughter of innocent animals that, in some cases, are as intelligent and emotionally aware as the dogs we keep as pets? Sure, that might take the fun out of the affair, but somebody needs to burst this bubble of cruelty masquerading as cultural exploration. Plus, it might also encourage us to look at the ways foodie culture employs language and stereotypical notions of history to distract consumers from the hard realities of food production, all the while promoting the interests of those who profit from our distraction. Terms such as “fatback collective,” “ham and bacon man,” and “porgy tosses” have a cute ring to them. But only a moment’s reflection brings to mind the phrase, “the banality of evil.” And is it really necessary to glorify a stupid “cultural” expression known as the “mullet toss”? Grown adults throwing fish across the Alabama-Florida border? For real? Might it not make more sense to explore how the global fish supply is in increasing trouble, and suggest that people who think it’s okay to engage in a “mullet toss” are either clueless, idiots, or both? Finally, the ad mentions that this event will explore “the food cultures of the changing American south.” As far as I can tell, though, what’s highlighted is a traditional regional diet that has made the American south one of the unhealthiest places in the world.