Chattanooga Choo Choo, Music Fesival Mayhem, and Southern Foodways

When you have two days and a weekend to kill before you start your new job, what do you do? You hit the road, honey, with your mom and your two aunts to Chattanooga, Tenn., and then on to the most whacked-out Woodstock-wannabe music festival, the Echo Project, in Atlanta, Ga. (Not with the family in tow, though).

My mom and her two sisters, my aunts Pumpkin and Raisin (sidenote: I was into food even at age two when I gave them these nicknames in honor of the shapes of their heads! How weird is that!) went on a Kentucky and Tennessee fall trip, starting in Louisville where my grandfather went to Baptist Seminary and also worked for the Southern Atlantic Railroad.

The Traveling Sisterhood came through Nashville, picked me up, and we headed down (or over) I-24. Chattanooga has a great aquarium and the steep Lookout Mountain Incline is great fun also. We enjoyed ice cream at Clumpie's and had dinner at Tony's in the Bluff Arts District. Awesome Italian food - the bread is incredible, chewy yet soft with fragrant whole cloves of garlic baked right in. I had the Fusilli with grilled chicken with roasted red pepper alfredo. Heart attack on a plate, but damn good every once in a while.

Then, Scott came down on Friday evening and picked me up, and we hightailed it down to Atlanta to the first-ever Echo Project Festival, a four-day environmental awareness and music festival. We had the good fortune of setting up our campsite right next to an obnoxious set of college co-eds trying their damnedest to relive the psychedelic sixties. If I heard "Oh my God, man, I'm trippin' so (expletive) hard" once, I heard it fifty times during the course of Friday night/Saturday morning. Fortunately I packed my earplugs and it wasn't anything strong coffee, a tasty breakfast burrito and The Avett Brothers couldn't improve.

After Scott and I reached maximum capacity of contact highs, jam bands out the wazoo and hot, hot Atlanta, we came back to Nashville on Saturday night, resting up for Sunday afternoon. The Southern Festival of Books was awesome - we saw a lecture by Texas rebel rouser Kinky Friedman (of Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys and, most recently, the unfortunate losing Texas gubernatorial candidate) a rousing performance by the Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church Men's Choir, and a lecture on Southern Foodways featuring Roy Blount Jr., John T. Edge, John Egerton and Martha (I don't know her last name, but she runs Martha's at the Plantation - the Belle Meade Plantation of course, Dah-lin's).

The Southern Foodways panel was great. I asked a question about the panelists' preferences of southern BBQ and I was able to prove to Scott that S.C. mustard based barbecue is basically irrelevant and gross, as no one single panelist mentioned it as their favorite or even made note of it at all. Lexington/N.C. style rules! Someone asked the panelists about the origin of monkeybread and no one knew the answer to that. Do you?

Monkey-in on to bedtime...


  1. Ya'll went to Echo Project...I am so jealous. I really wanted to go but couldn't make it. I'm glad you got to see the Avett Brothers. They are coming to Augusta in November and I am so going!!!Hope all is well.

  2. Monkey bread (aka pull-apart bread, bubble bread, Christmas morning delights) is descended from traditional sweet, yeast rolls with centuries of history. Food historians tell us the first peoples to make sweet, buttery rolls with cinnamon were ancient Middle Eastern cooks. These recipes and spices traveled to Europe in the Middle Ages with crusaders, travellers, traders and explorers. Recipes varied according to culture and cuisine, but the concept remained stable. German kuchen, French galette, Pennsylvania Dutch sticky buns, and monkey bread all descended from these old recipes.

  3. Ahhh...I see someone beat me to the punch...but I know why it became popular in the 1980's...Nancy Reagan served it at the Whitehouse...if it is good enough for Ronnie, it's good enough for me!!!



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