gravymusic.com/Main Street Greenville released the music line-up for the 2019 Delta Hot Tamale Festival today and once again attendees are in for a real treat. "The bar was set high this year since the Delta Hot Tamale Festival was voted "Best Music Festival" by readers of The Delta Democrat Times and I am pleased to say this line-up lives up to that honor" said Daniel Boggs, CEO of Greater Greenville Development Foundation, the parent organization for the festival. This year, musical acts include the likes of Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights who's album "Holy Smokes" is described by Rolling Stone Magazine as "A road trip through the south on a speeding motorcycle..."; Ray Boudreaux a contender on NBC's The Voice for team Blake; and New Orleans favorites Gravy who's music "...preaches the gospel of New Orleans funk and soul while maintaining a creative voice steeped in the time-honored traditions of The Crescent City." Boggs said "due to the diverse audience this festival attracts each year, tremendous thought goes into providing a mixture of musical styles and genres and this year will follow in that tradition."
For a complete listing of performers and more information about each one, please visit the festival website here.
Celebrity Chef and Author Line-Up Announced for Literary/Culinary Mash-Up Welcome Dinner to Kick-Off the 2019 Delta Hot Tamale Festival on October 17th, 2019
Once again, Julia Reed has put together an outstanding line-up of chefs and authors for the 2019 Literary/Culinary Mash-Up Gala Welcome Dinner. The Greenville, MS native said "she is ecstatic about this year's line-up (which includes actress and photographer Jessica Lange) and the opportunity it provides to share the Mississippi Delta with the world." So far, this year's line up includes the following:
John Alexander, a painter and native of Beaumont, TX, has made his home in Manhattan and Amagansett, NY since the late 1970s. He has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and around the world. In 2007, a major retrospective of his work opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. His drawings and paintings reside in the permanent collections of institutions including: the Dallas Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, as well as in many other distinguished public and private collections worldwide. His books include John Alexander: A Retrospective; One World, Two Artists: John Alexander and Walter Anderson; and Human/Nature, The Ridiculous and Sublime: Recent Works by John Alexander.
Hugh Balthrop is founder and creative director of Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co., based in Clarksdale, MS. A former art gallery owner in Washington, DC, he followed “the love of his life” to the Delta in 2000 and started making ice cream for family and friends. After attending a course in ice cream-making at Penn State and studying under a gelato master, he launched Sweet Magnolia, putting a Southern twist on traditional Italian techniques and using locally sourced ingredients, including Mississippi grass grazed milk and cream, honey, sorghum, pecans, eggs, blueberries, and pound cake. Sweet Magnolia Gelato is available in more than 100 retail locations across the South and bears the tagline “Created by us, inspired by y’all.”
Roy Blount, Jr. is an author and humorist, panelist on the hit National Public Radio show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! and columnist for Garden & Gun magazine. Blount’s books include Crackers, Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor, and Feet on the Street, Rambles Around New Orleans. His latest book, a collection of essays titled Save Room for Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations was published by Farrar Straus in 2016.
William Dunlap, artist and writer, is a Mississippi native who now resides in McLean, VA and Coral Gables, FL. Dunlap’s work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Mississippi Museum of Art, and United States embassies throughout the world. Dunlap is also a noted curator, lecturer, and journalist who has contributed to many national magazines and books, including his own Dunlap, an overview of his work. His latest book, His first work of fiction, Short Mean Fiction, Words and Pictures, was published in April 2016. His most recent book, with Jane Livingston, isPappy Kitchens and the Saga of Red Eye the Roosterand was published in July 2019.
Cole Ellis was born and raised in Cleveland, Mississippi, where he is chef/owner of Delta Meat Marketand Bar Fontainein the brand new Cotton House Hotel.After graduating from the Culinary Institute of Charleston, he worked at a series of Charleston’s top restaurants, including the Hominy Grill and Magnolia’s. Before returning home in 2013 to start his market, restaurant, and catering business, Ellis served as chef de cuisine at Nashville’s famed Hermitage Hotel for seven years.
Huger Foote is a photographer with deep Delta roots who was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. He has held numerous solo exhibitions in London, New York, Paris, and other cities, including his hometown, and his photographs hang in many public and private collections. A collection of his work My Friend from Memphis was published in 2000 and features text by William Eggleston and film director Bernardo Bertolucci. His latest monograph, Now Here Then was released in October 2015. He resides is upstate New York.
Jason Goodenough was born in Atlanta but spent his childhood between Manhattan and London. After graduating from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, he earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Chef Goodenough has since worked with legendary Philadelphia chef Georges Perrier and Iron Chef Morimoto and did a stint as a private chef in South Dakota while also working in leading New Orleans restaurant kitchens. In 2014, he opened the critically acclaimed Carrollton Market in Uptown New Orleans. In 2017, he was named Chef of the Year by New Orleans magazine.
Jessica Harris is a retired professor of English at Queens College in New York and the founder of the Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures at Dillard Universtiy in New Orleans, where she lives part time. A noted author and culinary historian, Dr. Harris is an expert on African and Caribbean cuisines. She is a founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a member of the Board of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. She also has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. Her books include Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking and High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. Her latest book, My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir, was published in May 2017 and recalls a lost era—the vibrant New York City of her youth, where her social circle included Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and other members of the Black intelligentsia.
John Huey is former editor-in-chief of Time Inc., a position in which he was responsible for all of the company’s digital, print and video content, including the magazines Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Essence, and Southern Living. He now contributes to both Southern Living and Garden & Gun, for which he produces a popular podcast called Whole Hog. He and his wife Kate reside Charleston, SC and the mountains of North Carolina.
Jessica Lange was born in Cloquet, Minnesota and won a scholarship to study art and photography at the University of Minnesota. Lange left college early, traveling extensively in the United States and Mexico, and ending up in Paris, where she studied mime. She then moved to Manhattan where she modeled and waitressed at the fabled Lion’s Head Tavern in Greenwich Village. Lange’s first film role was in Dino Di Laurentiis’s King Kong. Subsequent films included Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz (in a role written specifically for her) and The Postman Always Rings Twicewith Jack Nicholson. Lange is thirteenth actress in history to win the “triple crown” of acting, having won two Academy Awards (for best supporting actress in Tootsieand best actress in Blue Sky), three Prime Time Emmy Awards (for Grey Gardensand American Horror Story), and one Tony (forLong Day’s Journey Into Night). She is also the winner of a Screen Actors Guild Award and five Golden Globes, and has won wide critical acclaim for her starring roles in the films Francesand Sweet Dreamsand the television series Feud, in which she played Joan Crawford.
Widely considered the finest actress of her generation, she is also an accomplished photographer, who has exhibited her work all over the world. Her books include 50 Photographs, Jessica Lange: In Mexico,and Jessica Lange: Unseen.Her most recent, Highway 61, which documents her personal journey along one of America’s most historic and defining routes, will be published on October 1, 2019. In 2009, she was presented with the first George Eastman House Honors Award for her photography. She is also the author of the children’s book, It’s About a Little Bird.
Jane Livingston was born in Upland, California. From 1967 to 1975, Jane served as curator of 20th-century art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.From 1975 to 1989 she was associate director and chief curator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. While there she organized ''Black Folk Art in America: 1930-1980,''a show that isolated for the first time the achievement of self-taught black artists and marked an explosion of interest in African American art.
Since then, Livingston has organized numerous shows, including a ground-breaking traveling exhibition of the quilts of Gee’s Bend that, according to Smithsonianmagazine, “transformed the way many people think about art.” In 2007, she curated a retrospectitve of John Alexander’s work for the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Her books include: The Art of Richard Diebenkorn; The Paintings of Joan Mitchell; The New York School: Photographs 1936-1963, Black Folk Art in America 1930-1980; and John Alexander, A Retrospective.Her most recent book, with William Dunlap, is Pappy Kitchens and the Saga of Red Eye the Roosterand was published in July 2019.
Beverly Lowry was born in Memphis and grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. She is the author of six novels, including Daddy’s Girl and The Track of Real Desires, and four nonfiction books, including Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life. Her latest book, Who Killed These Girls: The Unsolved Murders That Rocked a Texas Town was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2016. She lives in Austin, Texas and is work on a new work of non-fiction based in the Delta.
Julia Reed, a native Greenvillian, is a columnist for Garden & Gun. She is the author of eight books including: Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena; But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria; Julia Reed’s South, Spirited Entertaining and High Style Fun All Year Round; and South Toward Home, Adventures and Misadventures in my Native Land. Her most recent book, published by Rizzoli in May 2019 is Julia Reed’s New Orleans.With close friend Keith Smythe Meacham, she is a partner in Reed Smythe & Company,maker of uncommon artisanal goods for the house and garden. She is also the proprietor of the soon-to-open Brown Water Books in downtown Greenville.
Stephen Stryjewski Winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation “Best Chef South,” Stephen Stryjewski is Chef/Partner of New Orleans’ award winning restaurants: Cochon; Cochon Butcher; Pêche Seafood Grill; Gianna; Calcasieu a private event facility; and La Boulangerie a neighborhood bakery and café.In 2015, Stryjewski and his business partner Chef Donald Link created the Link Stryjewski Foundation to address the persistent cycle of violence and poverty, as well as the lack of quality education and job training opportunities available to young people in New Orleans. (http://www.linkstryjewski.org)In 1997, Stryjewski graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and went on to work for some of the most notable chefs and restaurants in the country, including Michael Chiarello at Tra Vigne and Jeff Buben at Vidalia. A self-described “Army brat,” Stryjewski moved frequently growing up, and has since traveled extensively in the United States and Europe. He resides in New Orleans’s Irish Channel with his wife and two daughters.
Calvin Trillin began his career in the Atlanta bureau of Timemagazine and has written for The New Yorker for more than 50 years. He has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America” as well as “a classic American humorist.” His About Alice—a 2007 New York Timesbest seller that was hailed as “a miniature masterpiece”—followed two other best-selling memoirs, Remembering Dennyand Messages from my Father. His columns have been collected into five books, including Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin, which was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2011. His most recent book is Jackson, 1964, And Other Dispatches on Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America.
Malcolm White, a native of Stone County, Mississippi, is the executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, a position he previously held from 2005 to 2012, after which he became director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division. While leading the Tourism Division, White developed and implemented plans to create economic growth and opportunities through tourism and the creative economy and promoted the state as a travel destination and film location. Prior to his tenure at MAC, he worked in the hospitality industry, running the hugely popular restaurant Hal and Mal’s, and founding special events and festivals throughout the state. White has been a member of and served on the committees of numerous civic organizations. He is involved with South Arts, the Mississippi Blues and Country Music Trails, and Downtown Jackson Partners, and is past chairman of the Mississippi Blues Commission. In 2015, he published Little Stories: A Collection of Mississippi Photos. His most recent book is The Artful Evolution of Hal & Mal’s, an illustrated reminiscence of the restaurant’s history and characters was published in spring 2018.
Rebecca Wilcomb is the chef and part owner of Gianna, the latest jewel in the Link Restaurant Group’s New Orleans empire. Located in the Warehouse Dsitrict, the Italian-centric restraurantopened in Spring 2019 to much critical acclaim. Wilcombe is the former chef de cuisine at Herbsaint where she was the 2016 James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef South. She was also the 2015 winner of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival in the Celebrity Chef category.
All proceeds from these events go to further the preservation and revitalization work that is being performed in downtown Greenville, Mississippi. For more information and to purchase tickets visit the Literary/Culinary Mash-Up page.
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 8:40 am
Kristina Norman email@example.com | 0 comments
A little over two weeks remain until the kickoff of the seventh annual Delta Hot Tamale Festival that will welcome residents and guests who will fill Greenville’s streets. The week of festivities will get started Oct. 18 with the sixth annual gala welcome dinner and book signing with Southern writers and chefs at Belmont Plantation, said Julia Reed, an award winning author and Greenville native, who organizes the event each year. “This is the third year we are having the gala kickoff dinner of the Literary/Culinary Mashup at Belmont, which has been a great partner to us,” she said. “We are so blessed to have this plantation house so close to the city limits.”
Attendees at the ticketed event will be treated to a three-course dinner prepared by notable chefs from the Southern region of the United States, hors d’oeuvres, specialty cocktails, a live auction, cigar bar, dancing and live music.Chefs for this year’s dinner include Donald Link, of the Link Restaurant Group; Jason Goodenough, of Carrollton Market; Kristen Essig, of Coquette; Mason Hereford, of Turkey and the Wolf; Rebecca Wilcomb and David Rouse, of Herbsaint; and Billy Jones, of Cochon. They will be joined by the Delta’s own Cole Ellis, of Delta Meat Market, and Hugh Balthrop, of Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co. “We have a lot of beloved chefs who have been here before, like Donald Link, who has an enormous and fabulous empire of restaurants in New Orleans,” Reed said. “Kristen is one of the new ones and Mason Hereford is coming for the second year. He and Kristen will compete along with some others in the celebrity chef category we do on the main stage Saturday.”
Every year Reed said she tries to have a theme that the chefs can focus the dinner around. “Our theme of Delta Hunt and Harvest was so popular we’re doing it again,” Reed said. “Jason Goodenough, who made the amazing duck entree last year, is doing stuffed quail. We’ll have a nod to the mighty catfish and other game and Delta products.” Without the support of the chefs though, the event would not be possible, Reed said. “The chefs really love coming and we are pleased and so grateful because they come on their own dime and donate the food,” she said. The night’s auction will feature items for bid that include a duck hunt with Delta sportsman and writer Hank Burdine, a New Orleans trip and artwork.
The week will continue Oct. 19 with panel discussions and lunch, set to begin at 10 a.m. with a Bloody Mary bar at E.E. Bass Cultural Arts Center, 323 Main St. Friday’s event will include a lunch catered by Allen Sanders, executive chef of Downtown Grille, from noon to 1 p.m. Having events like the welcome dinner and mashup help keep people around Greenville for more than one day, Reed said. “One of the reasons I, along with a whole lot of great volunteers, worked so hard to add the mashup to the festival, is so that people would have a reason to stay in town,” she said. Throughout the day, panels comprised of chefs, artists and authors will cover topics such as Southern cuisine, the intertwining history of the blues and tamales, Greenville’s rich cultural, literary history and art focusing on Delta landscapes. Reed will sign copies of her latest book “South Toward Home, Adventures and Misadventures in my Native Land,” as will Burdine of his book “Dust in the Road: Reflections of a Delta Boy.”
2018 Celebrity Chef and Author Line-Up:
John Alexander, a painter who has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and around the world;
Hugh Balthrop, founder and creative director of Clarksdale-based Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co.;
William N. Beckwith, a Greenville native and sculptor who apprenticed at age 14 under Leon Koury;
Roy Blount, Jr., an author, humorist, panelist on the hit National Public Radio show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” and columnist for Garden & Gun magazine;
William Dunlap, a Mississippi native, artist, writer, noted curator, lecturer, and journalist who has contributed to many national magazines and books;
Cole Ellis, a Cleveland native and owner of Delta Meat Market;
Kristen Essig, a New Orleans-based chef who is co-chef and partner with Michael Stoltzfus. Both were 2018 James Beard Award finalists in the Best Chef in the South category;
Huger Foote, a photographer with deep Delta roots who was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee;
Sara Foster, chef and co-owner of Foster’s Market, a gourmet food market and cafe in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina;
Jason Goodenough, chef of the Carrollton Market in Uptown New Orleans named the 2017 Chef of the Year by New Orleans magazine;
Jessica Harris, a noted author, culinary historian, retired professor of English at Queens College in New York and the founder of the Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures at Dillard University in New Orleans;
Mason Hereford, owner of Turkey and the Wolf, a New Orleans sandwich shop that was chosen best new restaurant of 2017 by Bon Appetit magazine;
John Huey, former editor-in-chief of Time Inc., and contributor to both Southern Living and Garden & Gun;
Billy Jones, the Chef de Cuisine at Cochon in New Orleans, a James Beard Award-winning restaurant that is part of the Link Restaurant Group;
Donald Link, a James Beard Award winner, executive chef and CEO of the Link Restaurant Group, which includes Herbsaint, Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Peche, and La Boulangerie;
Beverly Lowry, an author and novelist with Greenville roots;
Kim Sunée, a New Orleans-raised, Anchorage, Alaska-based author and food columnist for the Alaska Dispatch;
Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, former director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division and co-founder of Hal and Mal’s restaurant in Jackson; and
Rebecca Wilcomb, the chef de cuisine at Herbsaint restaurant in New Orleans and the 2016 James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef South. She was also the 2015 winner of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival in the Celebrity Chef category.
A limited number of tickets are still available for both the dinner, which costs $185, and the mashup, which are available for $60.
To purchase tickets, visit https://www.mainstreetgreenville.com/literaryculinary-mash-up.html
GREENVILLE, Miss – July 9, 2018 – Main Street Greenville will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand opening of Mitchell’s Tire and Service Center, LLC on July 9, 2018 at 10:00 am. The event will take place in front of the business entrance at 821 Washington Avenue in downtown Greenville, Mississippi.
After purchasing a small engine service center from Bobby Jenkins in July 2000, the Mitchell family relocated the business to 821 Washington Avenue, and appropriately named it “Mitchell’s Small Engine Supply”. Over the past eighteen (18) years, Mitchell Small Engine Supply has serviced the small engine repair and maintenance needs of the Delta, and has met and established a diverse customer base over this time period. Now, looking to expand their services within the region, owners Shelly and Bobby Mitchell, Jr. are proudly announcing the opening of Mitchell’s Tire and Service Center. Mitchell’s Tire and Service Center will be able to service all of your tire needs, including tire replacement, alignment, flats, brakes, struts, shocks, cv axels, oil changes, radiator flushes, a/c services and more.
“The commitment to provide the very best in sales, parts and service to our customers is what Mitchell’s is all about. We see the growth and revitalization of downtown Greenville, and we want to be a part of that! Providing another service to the people in downtown Greenville is a step forward in helping with the revitalization efforts”, stated Bobby Mitchell, Jr.
For more information, please contact Shelly and Bobby Mitchell, Jr. at 662-378-8132.
GREATER GREENVILLE DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, INC. RECEIVES
MISSISSIPPI ARTS COMMISSION GRANT
(Greenville, Miss) – The Greater Greenville Development Foundation, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as “GGDF”) has been awarded a $4,500.00 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission (hereinafter referred to as “MAC”). This grant is a portion of the nearly $1.4 million in grants the MAC will award in 2018-2019 and will be used to support the 2018 Delta Hot Tamale Festival. The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts (hereinafter referred to as “NEA”).
“MAC supports arts activities in nearly every corner of the state through grants to arts organizations, schools, communities and units of governments,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “The projects and programming these organizations produce with MAC funds helps enrich our state’s communities. This funding helps organizations provide arts experiences and educational opportunities to people who may not otherwise have access to the arts.”
GGDF is a non-profit organization which is committed to the renewal efforts of downtown Greenville. As such, the net proceeds from this Festival, as well as other Main Street Greenville events, directly benefits this mission. Specifically, with the proceeds from last year’s events, Main Street Greenville was able to provide facade improvement grants to downtown business owners, implement landscape improvements within the central business district, provide technical assistance to numerous existing and potential businesses, as well as develop preliminary plans and administer a capital campaign for the development of a new community green space and pavilion, which will also be the future home of the Greenville Farmers’ Market.
The MAC, a state agency, serves the residents of the state by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, MAC is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the NEA, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.
For information from the Mississippi Arts Commission, contact Anna Ehrgott, Communications Director, 601-359-6546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relocation of Restaurant Scheduled for June 14, 2018 at 10:00 am in Greenville, MS
GREENVILLE, Miss – June 14, 2018 – Main Street Greenville will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to
commemorate the grand opening of the Cajun Shotgun House & BBQ restaurant on June 14th at 10:00
am. The event will take place in front of the restaurant entrance at 1831 S. MLK in Greenville, Miss.
In 2013, Wayne and Lucy Miller purchased the Shotgun House and BBQ from long-time owner, John
Dobbins. At this time the Miller’s changed the name to the Cajun Shotgun House and BBQ. “The name
was very fitting since Wayne and I both came to Greenville from Louisiana”, said owner, Lucy Miller.
Lucy has always dreamed of owning her own place, specifically a bakery. With the purchase of this
established restaurant, Lucy decided this would be a great time to put her own personal touch on the
business by adding additional items to the menu, including baked goods. The Cajun Shotgun House and
BBQ now offers a variety of items including hamburgers, pulled pork, seafood, and a diverse pallet of
dessert items. In addition, the Cajun Shotgun House and BBQ now offers catering services for all types
Lucy Miller further stated, “we were hesitant about leaving the downtown location simply because
everyone knew where we were, but we had no choice…we were completely out of room. The new
location has allowed us to expand our kitchen and dining area, as well as increase our staff to
accommodate the additional business”. To celebrate the relocation, a free tasting of customer favorites
such as pulled pork sliders, ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, brownies, pork skins, tea and water will be
Arts & Culture
Celebrate the South's Fifty great things Southerners should see, do, cook, read, and drink—at least once
Juleps at the derby, check. Quail hunting in the Red Hills, check.Tailgating at the Grove, check. But beyond these quintessential experiences, a world of under-the-radar adventures awaits.
N° 40: Stop by a Small-Town Festival
by Antony Hare
From Crisfield, Maryland’s Hard Crab Derby to Helen, Georgia’s lederhosen-heavy Oktoberfest, small-town festivals in the South are idiosyncratic ecosystems, each with its own rituals and customs. Take the Delta Hot Tamale Festival in Greenville, Mississippi. There, cornmeal-in-corn-husk dough packets are just part of the funky fun. Winners of the Miss Hot Tamale contest wear gowns made of corn shucks. Celebrity chefs compete in a cook-off. Roy Blount, Jr., cracks you up with his prelunch blessing. And the Hot Tamale Parade rolls through downtown, with blues musicians, Hot Tamale royalty, and children in tow.
Click here to see the list in it's entirety.
It's time to learn about the Mississippi Delta's long love affair with hot tamales
Jay Jones, Special Contributor
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GREENVILLE, Miss. --
In the Mississippi Delta, that swath of bottomland along the mightiest of rivers, it's best not to ask folks how the tamale -- a humble food with deep roots in Latin America -- made its way to, of all places, Mississippi.
Sure, you can ask. But your head will soon be swimming with countless theories.
Were the packets of spicy meat and cornmeal wrapped in corn husks consumed on the battlefield by Confederate soldiers? Or, did they not appear until the early 20th century, when Mexican migrants came to pick cotton?
One thing is for certain: They had grown hugely popular by the time legendary bluesman Robert Johnson sang about them in 1935.
Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got 'em for sale
She got two for a nickel, got four for a dime
Nowadays, a dozen will cost you $10, but they continue to be sought after in towns along the river from Tunica to Natchez. No visit is complete without indulging in a food that, in these parts, is as beloved as biscuits and gravy.
Aaron Harmon (left) and his father, Willie, run Hot Tamale Heaven, a restaurant and manufacturing facility in Greenville, Mississippi. They make about 20,000 tamales each day.
In Greenville, the self-proclaimed Hot Tamale Capital (there's a Delta Hot Tamale Festival this year on Oct. 21), tamales can be ordered not only in restaurants, but also from street vendors and roadside stands. The team at Hot Tamale Heaven (1640 U.S. 82, Greenville, 662-378-2240) makes 20,000 of them a day.
Willie Harmon began making tamales for his neighbors in the mid-1980s. The first day, he made $6.50.
"I was so happy, you'd have thought I made a thousand dollars," he said.Willie now oversees the factory while son Aaron manages their restaurant. (A second location is under construction.) They serve them in the traditional husks, as well as battered and deep-fried.
Workers at Hot Tamale Heaven in Greenville prepare tamales for sale, trimming the corn husks and tying them together in batches of six.
Downtown, on the corner of Washington and Theobald, Perry Gibson's been selling tamales for 35 years from a stainless-steel cart labeled Perry's Original Sho-Nuff Hot Tamales. He has a passionate recipe for success.
"A lot of love and good seasonings and good product. You start with a good product, you end with a good product," he observed.About 85 miles to the south, in historic Vicksburg, owner Jewel McCain of Solly's Hot Tamales (1921 Washington St., Vicksburg, 601-636-2020) pointed out a simple truth: There's nothing "fast" about her food. Tamales are exceedingly time-consuming to make.
"I get up here at 4:30 in the morning, get the water boiling and the grease on, seasoning the meat. I get the [corn] shucks in the pot to soften them," she noted.
McCain said she can have as many as 120 dozen tamales made by the time the first customers arrive at 10:30 a.m. Her recipe -- handed down from Henry Solly, who began the small restaurant in 1939 -- is a blend of chiles, cumin, garlic salt, ground beef, oregano and red pepper covered in white cornmeal.
Solly's also serves a tamale burrito ($4.50) and the Fiesta, her spin on nachos. The platter ($6.25 for a small order, $7.75 for a large) includes tamales alongside cheddar cheese, chili, jalapeños and refried beans -- with tortilla chips on the side.
The sprawling Vicksburg National Military Park (nps.gov/vick) is a reminder of the city's pivotal role in the Civil War. Its fall on July 4, 1863, was a bitter pill to swallow. Locals refused to celebrate Independence Day until 1945, when they caught the patriotic fever sweeping the country.
At Fat Mama s in Natchez, people who ve yet to try the local cuisine are encouraged to try a variety of menu items, including tamales, a southern-style sausage, chili and cornbread.
Downriver in Natchez on a sultry summer's eve, David Gammill's tamales are as hot and steamy as the air. At Fat Mama's Tamales (303 S. Canal St., Natchez, 601-442-4548, fatmamastamales.com), the restaurant his parents started, he grew up doing his homework on a cot wedged between a deep freezer and jumbo-size bags of onions.
"There are a thousand things you could cook that are easier than tamales," he mused.Still, after completing college, he returned to Vicksburg to run the family business.
Gammill urges the uninitiated to build a shareable platter by ordering not only tamales ($10 a dozen), but boudin, a spicy Cajun sausage ($4.25); "Fire and Ice" pickles ($2.50); and his chili ($6.75), which comes with a large side of zesty cornbread.
"There were tamales along the river as long as anyone can remember," he said, making his parents' restaurant, which opened in a small log cabin in 1982, a relative newcomer. It has since moved and expanded.
One of the theories postulated by the Southern Foodways Alliance, part of the University of Mississippi, is that American Indians, whose diet was based on maize, made the first tamales thousands of years ago. But as Jewel McCain pointed out, "It's just basically speculation."
If you goThe Southern Foodways Alliance (southernfoodways.org) has a searchable website that includes oral histories and an interactive map of its Mississippi Tamale Trail, with more than 20 listings.
Jay Jones is a freelance writer in Las Vegas.
Greater Greenville Development Foundation (GGDF) of Greenville, MS has been awarded a $4,100.00 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). This grant is a portion of the $1.5 million in grants the Commission will award in 2016-2017 and will be used in support of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival. The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Organizations that support the arts play a pivotal role in growing Mississippi’s creative economy,” said Malcolm White, Executive Director of MAC. “The Mississippi Arts Commission is pleased to support their work, which reinforces the value of the arts for communities and for the economic development of our state.”
GGDF, Inc. is a non-profit organization, organized exclusively for charitable, educational, scientific, and literary purposes. Our mission is to promote events and issues which are relevant to the quality of life for the residents of Greenville, Washington County, the Mississippi Delta, and the State of Mississippi.
The Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, serves the residents of the state by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, the Mississippi Arts Commission is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.
For information from the Mississippi Arts Commission, contact Melia Dicker, Communications Director, at 601-359-6546 or email@example.com