And the winner is…

The winner of the ‪#‎DogPeople‬ Photo Contest is Andy Norwood of Tennessee, whose wife Shannon is shown here with their son’s dog Pal!

Congratulations to the Norwood family! They will receive a signed copy of Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s new memoir The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge, a $50 gift certificate to Parnassus Books, and Blair will donate $50 in their name to Barkie’s Legacy in Ocoee, FL where their son Patrick volunteers.

Thank you to all of the animal lovers who voted in the photo contest. Your votes made a difference to the dogs at Barkie’s Legacy.



Stephanie Tyson speaks at UCF Book Festival March 31, 2012

As one of Florida’s premier literary events, the UCF Book Festival features renowned national and local authors, book signings and sales, exhibits, book appraisals, and special children’s activities. This year, they invited Stephanie L. Tyson, author of Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook. She’ll appear with Nathalie Dupree March 31, 2012, at 3 p.m., for the panel “Southern Cooking at its Best: Biscuits, Sweet Potatoes and More.” Just talking about it makes our mouths water!

Born in North Carolina, Chef Tyson spent countless hours dreaming of leaving for the bright lights of anywhere else. But once she left to travel and cook around the world, she could not believe what a relief it was to come home again. Trained in culinary arts at Baltimore International College, Chef Tyson opened her award-winning restaurant with her partner Vivián Joiner in 2003 in the downtown Arts District of Winston-Salem, where they live.

Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook is recipes—recipes from the Sweet Potatoes restaurant, recipes from the families of Chef Stephanie Tyson and co-owner Vivian Joiner, recipes that are Southern, plain and simple. But beyond the how-to’s for Gullah Shrimp and Crab Pilau, Cheerwine-Glazed Country Ham, and other lip-smacking dishes, this soul food cookbook is also the history of the two women who started a locally and nationally acclaimed restaurant. As Tyson says in her introduction, “Every part of me is a part of Sweet Potatoes.” In Well, Shut My Mouth! she shares a culinary experience that has been a favorite of Winston-Salem natives and visitors for years, allowing readers and patrons to recreate it in their own kitchens.

View the entire festival schedule here. And if you can’t make it to Orlando, perhaps Stephanie’s sweet potato biscuits will tide you over? Nancie McDermott, chef in her own right, shared her thoughts on the recipe here.

What do you know about Gullah?

So how did you do on yesterday’s quiz? Spoiler alert: below are the answers. Look at yesterday’s post if still want to take the quiz before seeing the answers.

1.What language do the Gullah still speak today?
The Gullah language is a Creole blend of Elizabethan English and native tongues with its own grammar and vocabulary that originated on the coast of Africa and came across the Atlantic on slave ships. As many as 20 percent of the words are West African, and many more were made understandable because of the fact that Gullah is a language of cadence, accents, and intonations.Today, more than 300,000 Gullah-speaking people live on the Sea Islands.

2. How have the Gullah been able to keep their language and their traditions in tact?
Thanks to their solidarity and relative isolation, the Gullah people were able to keep their language and traditions intact. The initial cause of this isolation was the African slaves’ hereditary resistance to diseases like malaria and yellow fever, which thrived on the rice plantations of the swampy coastal plains of Georgia and South Carolina, and their masters’ susceptibility to these diseases. As a result, white planters left their farms during the summer and autumn months, and slaves had little contact with whites on a day-to-day basis.

3. Have Gullah influences found their way into mainstream culture?
Of course! Many Gullah words and traditions have quietly found their way into mainstream culture. Among them are the spiritual “Kumbaya,” which means “come by here,” foods like hoppin’ john, sweet potato pie, and benne wafers, and English words as varied as gorilla, zebra, banana, okra, bogus, hippie, jamboree, sock, tote, and banjo. Even the word doggies in the quintessentially American cowboy song “Get Along Little Doggies” comes from kidogo, an African word meaning “a little something” or “something small.”

4. Although the Gullah are Christian, their beliefs deviate in one important aspect. What is it?
Sea Islanders believe that when a person dies, his soul returns to God but his “spirit” stays on earth and carries on its day-to-day routine. It is the job of the living to see to it that these spirits are well cared for. One tradition is to decorate the grave of the deceased with the last articles that person used, such as bottles, pots, or medicines, each item purposely broken or rendered useless in order to symbolize the end of earthly things. This is common among people of central Africa, who historically honored the dead by placing valuable furniture, jewelry, and paintings on graves.

5. What is a “basket name”?
Most Gullah-speaking people have an English name, to be used in school and with strangers, and a nickname, or “basket name,” typically of African origin. The basket name might be inspired by the season, month, day of the week, or time of the child’s birth; the conditions of the baby’s birth or the baby’s appearance at birth; or monarchs, places, animals, or even occupations.

For more fascinating facts about the Gullah people, check out this What do you know about Gullah? trivia sheet.

Meet Michael Carlebach at the Miami Book Fair this weekend

“Most people can take photographs. They just can’t take good photographs; whereas Michael Carlebach, as you’ll see when you look through this book, can. And his photographs aren’t just technically good. They’re funny, and interesting, and thought-provoking…
“This does not surprise me. I know Michael, and he’s a funny, interesting, and thought-provoking person. He’s also no stranger to weirdness. In fact, he seeks weirdness out, and is not afraid to have weirdness thrust upon him.”
—Dave Barry

Michael Carlebach's Sunny LandDave Barry’s a fan of Michael Carlebach‘s Sunny Land, and we are too! This photography book offers a unique view, both realistic and comic, of Miami and south Florida during the last decades of the 20th century, when political and social turmoil, urban decay, and suburban sprawl made Miami a curious amalgamation of glamour and violence, all of it bathed in sunlight. Sunny Land portrays a Florida left out of the tourist brochures, a place that is in some respects invisible, though no less compelling and meaningful.

And if you’re in Florida this weekend, you’ll have a chance to meet Michael himself, along with Salman Rushdie, Jonathan Franzen, and a full list of other amazing authors at the Miami Book Fair. The fair begins today and runs through Sunday, when Michael will be signing copies of Sunny Land at 1:30 p.m. You’ll find full details here.