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Film Fare

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

St. Matthews’ Caw Caw Creek, which strives to bring pastured pork to chefs across the country, will be featured as one of five purveyors of South Carolina cuisine during SFA's Potlikker Film Festival. Photos courtesy of (left), (right)

February 23, 2011

Film Fare
The Southern Foodways Alliance brings South Carolina culture and cuisine to the table next week with the Potlikker Film Festival

written by Harriet McLeod


The four-day Charleston Wine + Food Festival tucks in next week, and to get participants’ palates in the proper Lowcountry spirit, the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) is serving up an evening of Charleston soul.

On the menu at McCrady’s next Wednesday: squirrel gravy, oyster beer, and potlikker. Interested in a slurp? The sound of those dishes may not leave your mouth watering, but don’t turn down a taste quite yet.

Potlikker, as any self-respecting Southerner knows, is the liquid left behind after boiling collard greens seasoned with salt and pork. And on Wednesday night, the SFA—an Oxford, Mississippi-based nonprofit society that documents and celebrates Southern fare in all its varied glory—kicks off the food fest with the Potlikker Film Festival. Five short films, five minutes each, will honor five purveyors of good taste in South Carolina: Robert Barber and oysterman Victor “Goat” Lafayette of Bowens Island; Bertha’s Kitchen in North Charleston; artisanal hog farmer Emile DeFelice of Caw Caw Creek Pastured Pork in St. Matthews; Lowcountry heirloom rice grower Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills in Columbia; and Buckshot Colleton of Buckshot’s Restaurant in McClellanville. And just like the festival’s namesake “pot liquor,” these of-the-land producers possess essential nutrients for fortifying our state’s traditional cuisine.

“We try to approach each subregion of the South by its own rules,” says filmmaker Joe York, who has been making food documentaries in every state in the region for the last seven years and is working on the full-length film Southern Food: The Movie. “We pay attention to people who are passionate about what they do and how they do it. We also try to document places that are part of the culture.

“Emile DeFelice is a unique individual. I don’t know that I’ve ever met another hog farmer who is also an avid tango dancer. And Glenn Roberts, against a lot of odds, has tried to bring back a food tradition, the ingredients of the Carolina rice kitchen,” says York of his choice of subjects. “Bowens Island is a place that lives by its own set of rules. They don’t ask anybody’s permission to be what they are. Bertha’s is a beautiful place, with great, incredible soul food. It’s another side of the Charleston food tradition that is just as important as any white-tablecloth restaurant downtown. And Buckshot’s Restaurant is a family effort, so I spent a very traditional African American Thanksgiving last year with the family in Awendaw.”

Appropriately, the evening of films will also be served up with a dinner of traditional fare. Chefs Sean Brock of McCrady’s and Husk, Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill, and Sarah O’Kelley of The Glass Onion plan to dish out pimiento cheese finger sandwiches with Caw Caw Creek ham, catfish with Geechee peanut sauce, squirrel gravy, and oyster-flavored beer. “Oyster-flavored beer?” you ask. Coast Brewing Company says it’s a tradition dating to early 18th-century England. “We use two bushels of oysters per 14 barrels of beer,” explains co-owner Jaime Tenny, “and boil the oysters, shells, meat, juice, and all in the beer.”

Hmmm, perhaps we should call it “brewlikker.” Either way, this soul food send-up is worth digging into.

Potlikker Film Festival. Upstairs at McCrady’s, 2 Unity Alley. March 2, Wednesday, 5:30-8:30 p.m. $50 (advance purchase required).

For more information on the Potlikker Film Festival and to purchase tickets, click here.

To read more about the Southern Foodways Alliance, click here.

For the Charleston Wine + Food Festival schedule, click here.

To get the full schedule of offerings at Charleston magazine’s Wine + Food Festival Tasting Booth, click here.