Many of you will be hitting the roads for holiday travel this time of year, and will have ample time to catch up on your podcasts. If you are like me, and have exhausted the archives all your old favorites and are looking for something new to keep you going on our next trip, I’d like to recommend Gravy by our friends at the Southern Foodways Alliance.
They feature weekly episodes not just about Southern food, but also about how food leads to stories about a“ South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions, and lovingly maintaining old ones.” The folks at Southern Foodways Alliance use Southern food culture 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.”
There are a lot of wonderful stories in the Gravy archives, but there’s one in particular that I’d like to recommend: Robin Amer’s story about her family’s 160-year history as members of the Natchez Jewish community.
Robin’s grandparents, Bob and Elaine Lehmann, are native Jewish Natchezians. Robin’s audio narrative features people I know and love from my own work with the Jewish community in Natchez. People like Robin’s grandparents, along with Jay Lehmann, Teri Tillman, Mimi Miller, and Marcie Cohen Ferris. They all share their memories, experiences, and thoughts on Jewish food and Jewish life in Natchez with beautiful insight and humor.
Jewish food in Natchez ranges from famous matzoh ball soup with turkey gravy, to oysters (yep, a Jewish spin on shellfish), with many big festive meals in between. Robin explores these tradition through her own personal connection to the community — and you just have to hear the story of the “Ham Biscuit Incident” where Southern and Jewish traditions truly came head to head.
Robin’s story ends with questions about the future of Temple B’nai Israel, the gorgeous historic synagogue in Natchez. Well, as a bonus update to this podcast– here at the ISJL, we have a few answers! For example, the ISJL is gearing up to partner with Temple B’nai Israel in their celebration of Natchez’s Tricentennial throughout 2016. After listening to this podcast, and learning more about the celebrations ahead, you just might decide that your next road trip will be to Natchez!