In this issue of The Statesider Travel Newsletter
Reconciling the history of the South through cuisine, State Fairs beyond the questionable food creations, science travel, New York City’s wild side, a photographic treasure trove of roadside America, and America’s forgotten cathedrals.
Southern Food & Trauma Tourism: An Interview with Michael W. Twitty
When we talk about Southern food, what are we really talking about — and what parts of the story are we overlooking? In his James Beard Award-winning book The Cooking Gene, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty looks for answers, exploring his own past and the hidden history of Southern cuisines, including their roots in African and Native American traditions. 🍳 Read about what he saw, ate, and learned in this Statesider interview 🍳
Some people don’t want to acknowledge the connection because it makes them realize how much they are beholden to a multicultural America, and things wouldn’t be the same without this country’s contributions from all its residents.
Hello from the State Fair!
State Fairs, An Immigrant’s Perspective: These short profiles of visitors at the Minnesota State Fair showcase a near universal affection for cookies, fried food, and cheese curds. Joey Peters, Sahan Journal
The Things We Eat at the Fair: For longest time, new foods at the Minnesota State consisted of some unlikely thing-on-a-stick. Now, finally, they’re more likely to show off the state’s cultural diversity. By The Statesider’s own Midwest Editor-on-a-Stick, Doug Mack for City Pages.
Stories Across America
🔬 SCIENCE! 🍄 Listen to Oregon’s Humongous Fungus! Time travel in the Grand Canyon…of Pennsylvania! Explore twelve sites across the country to discover the beauty of science. A gorgeous package with visuals and audio from multiple authors and editors at the Washington Post.
West Virginia: Native American mounds are America’s ancient Cathedrals — you, we, all of us should be visiting them. John W. Miller, Moundsville
Texas: Texas Monthly covered 3,000 miles to track dow the state’s best honky-tonks. Christian Wallace, Texas Monthly
Tennessee: These gorgeous photos capture the spirit of the people who make old time American country music and the places where that music gets made. Kenneth Dickerman & Rachel Boillot, Washington Post
American Cheese: The Cheesecake Factory’s menu may take you longer to read than any issue of this newsletter, but it’s the menu America deserves. Lucas Kwan Peterson, LA Times
Kentucky: Goetta. Burgoo. Benedictine dressing. Hot browns. Transparent pie. A short list of some of the foods you’ll find on a tour of Kentucky foods offered by the state parks. Patti Nickell, Lincoln Journal Star
Hotel Bars: The lasting allure of hotel bars, spaces built for conversations with people you’ll never see again. Michael J. Mooney, Texas Highways
The conversations at a hotel bar, between total strangers, are as real as a puff of smoke. As soon as the wind blows, it’s almost like they never existed at all.
New Orleans à la Homer Simpson: Yes, this is an amazing real-life recreation of a scene from The Simpsons, but check out the level of real-life detail in the original cartoon. Katrin von Niederhäusern, YouTube
Speaking of New Orleans and Homer Simpson… Rent “Homer’s Hideout” on Airbnb. Just one thing: It’s a pothole. Laura Bliss, CityLab
Apropos of Everything: Muslims lived in America before Protestantism even existed. Why was their history forgotten? Brigid Haines, Aeon
Dept. of On the Road Again
Rest Stops: Nine reporters, two days, and one rest stop on the New York State Thruway. (We know this is an old episode, but Pam just discovered the “Service Plaza” on a road trip from NYC to Cape Cod.) This American Life
The Magical Mystery Poop Tour: Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains alerted to rolling balls of poop. It’s a grand journey for…some…thing. Mark Price, Charlotte Observer
Surprisingly Safe for Work: French photographer François Prost traveled from Miami to Los Angeles, capturing daytime portraits of two archetypal American institutions: strip clubs and gun shops. More in this short video on BBC.
Nebraska: A venn diagram of mobsters and cowboys and reinvention tours, plus, some Wild West mythology. Make coffee first, you’ll want to sit with this one. Matthew Hansen, Between Coasts — And dig this lede:
The man in the white cowboy hat knew the jig was up the day he entered a Chicago courtroom, placed his hand on the Bible and swore to tell the whole truth.
What We’re Reading
Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, by Sheba Karim. When gorgeous Ghaz “shames” her conservative family by appearing on a billboard for underwear, best friends Mariam and Umar spring her and the three go on a classic road trip. There’s junk food and divey hotels and what Ghaz calls “the road trip effect.” But there’s also a deeper exploration of what it means to be Pakistani and/or Indian and/or Muslim and/or Hindu in America. Ghaz’s overbearing family is just the beginning; Umar is a devout Muslim and gay, and Mariam was abandoned by her father as a child. The book is layered, sometimes a rollicking good time, sometimes dark, always lively. It’s going to make a really fun movie. Order Now Through Your Local Bookstore
Also: Don’t miss the Statesider interview with Michael W. Twitty on his book The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, right this way.
In Other News
- Oregon: Is this America’s most dangerous food trail? The crowdsourced Oregon Ice Cream Trail
- Florida: Florida vacation home invaded by vomiting vultures, Associated Press
- Hollywood: Mix two shots of 100 years of reality with a hefty slug of pulp fiction and you get Musso & Frank Grill. David Kipen, Alta
- New York Is Outdoorsy, Part 1: Thru-hiking the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail with views of Manhattan. Jessica McKenzie, New York Times
- New York Is Outdoorsy, Part 2: Exploring New York’s lesser-known islands. Robert Sullivan, New York Magazine
- New York Is Outdoorsy, Part 3: New York City’s best hikes to make you forget you’re in a massive city. John Surico, New York Times
- New York Is New Yorky: Saving the last punk rock bodega. Allie Conti
Is this the best news of the month? The Library of Congress released 11,700 photos of roadside America taken by John Margolies to the public domain, and boy howdy are we gonna use them. Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
Looking for more stories? We’re happy to share — we’re not shellfish.