Erin Byers Murray-Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South

Erin Byers Murray

Bio

Erin Byers Murray is a James Beard Award-nominated author, food writer, and magazine editor based in Nashville, She’s been the editor of Nashville Lifestyles magazine, where she covers food, culture, and people, and co-founded Dirty Pages, an interactive exhibit that celebrates well-loved recipes. Erin is the recipient of the Les Dames d’Escoffier International M.F.K. Fisher Award for excellence in culinary writing, as well as the New England Society Book Award, and her writing has been featured in publications like Food & Wine, The Local Palate, The Huffington Post, Tasting Table, and Wine & Spirits, as well as three editions of Best Food Writing.

Sessions

Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South

For food writer Erin Byers Murray, grits had always been one of those basic, bland Southern table necessities—something to stick to your ribs or dollop the butter and salt onto. But after hearing a famous chef wax poetic about the terroir of grits, her whole view changed. Suddenly the boring side dish of her youth held importance, nuance, and flavor. She decided to do some digging to better understand the fascinating and evolving role of grits in Southern cuisine and culture as well as her own Southern identity. As more artisan grits producers gain attention in the food world, grits have become elevated and appreciated in new ways, nationally on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line, and by international master chefs. Murray takes the reader behind the scenes of grits cultivation, visiting local growers, millers, and cooks to better understand the South’s interest in and obsession with grits. What she discovers, though, is that beyond the culinary significance of grits, the simple staple leads her to complicated and persisting issues of race, gender, and politics.

Interviewer: Mike Jordan

Mike Jordan is an Atlanta-based writer who covers entertainment, food, travel, music, arts, and culture. His work has been published in Rolling Stone, Playboy, Observer, The Outline, Eater, Atlanta Magazine, Creative Loafing, The Huntsville Times, and Thrillist, where he was the founding Atlanta editor. He is the co-author of former NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes’ book, Behind the Mask, and is the creator of Lit: Books, Booze and Beats, a recurring literary karaoke event he hosts with his wife Jacinta.

  • Marriott Conference Center Auditorium
  • Sun 5:00-5:45p Marriott Auditorium

Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South

Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South explores the fascinating and evolving role of grits in Southern cuisine and culture as well as Southern identity. As more artisan grits producers gain attention in the food world, grits have become elevated and appreciated in new ways, nationally on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line, and by international master chefs. Murray takes the reader behind the scenes of grits cultivation, visiting local growers, millers, and cooks to better understand the South’s interest in and obsession with grits. What she discovers, though, is that beyond the culinary significance of grits, the simple staple leads her to complicated and persisting issues of race, gender, and politics.

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