We live in a rapidly changing world. It’s a common refrain, but in the food world, the changes have been massive. Due primarily to the Food Network and the world of food-related shows, from our dearly departed to Anthony Bourdain, to Julie Child, years ago, how we cook, the ingredients we buy, the gadgets we have in our kitchens, and our exposure to foods from around the world have all been put on steroids.
Not only do we feed our families a more diverse diet, but we also expect more when we go out. The local Southern diner of years gone by, when every town would have supported one on almost every corner, would hardly stand a chance on the Mississippi Coast today. Occasionally you might get a craving for a country fried steak, or sausage gravy over a homemade biscuit, but I am guessing that a menu that is locally sourced, with dishes by a creative chef, that doesn’t mind a bit of fusion, but stays connected to the basics, like local seafood, would make most people pretty happy.
Pop-up suppers have been popular for quite a while (having a restaurant like experience in a non-typical restaurant environment) and seem to be happening more and more often. You may be thinking about a church-like experience, maybe a potluck, but that is not it, not even close. Pop-ups often are put on by heavy-weight chefs and can be quite expensive. The Delta Supper Club in Mississippi may be one of the most famous. They fly in big-name chefs, rent a barn or maybe even a cotton field, and invite two hundred people to eat from a world-class menu. See what I mean?
If you are thinking about putting together a pop-up, maybe as a fundraiser for your favorite non-profit, you better get your creative juices working. You may think that South Mississippi just isn’t ready for an event like this, but you just might be surprised. Take a look at the menu below, and let me know what you think:
Steamed blue crab dumplings, crab garum
Royal red escabeche, whipped corn
Black Rice Hoppin John, black-eyed pea miso
Marinated cherry tomatoes, bee pollen, nasturtium
Sishito pepper and chanterelle conserva
Poached shrimp, yuzu-koaso
Wood-grilled whole fish
Rice grits, shitake broth
Grilled okra, togarashi spice
Fermented green tomato chowchow
Blueberry and jasmine tart
Not bad, right? Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to attend an event like this in Jackson County? Well, let me tell you … this was the menu for the Gulf to Plate Community Supper at the Walter Anderson Museum on August 5, featuring James Beard Best Chef South Vishwesh Bhatt of the Snackbar in Oxford, and James Beard-nominated Chef Alex Perry of the Vestige in Ocean Springs.
We live in the midst of a rich and vibrant food culture, and just because we live in the Deep South, doesn’t mean we can’t compete with the best. I love a good po-boy, a piece of great fried chicken, but I also love to “put on the Ritz” every once in a while.
By the way, where were you? Better not miss the next one!
Photos by Anna Roy.