Two of the most distinguished magazines on the South — The Oxford American and Southern Cultures — are offering up special issues devoted respectively to music and food. While these are generally must-have magazines (and great subscriptions for holiday giving, I should add!), these particular issues are also don’t-miss, which I guess you can consider a step up from must-have the way I’m working all this here.
The Oxford American‘s annual music issue has always been a special treat for me — and over the years the music has lent a lot of “texture” to my iPod. This year, the magazine augments its continuing exploration of Southern music in all its many forms and genres with a focus on a particular state’s musical offerings, in this case Arkansas, where the publication is currently based. As a result, the issues features two free CDs, one offering that annual eclectic mix of music and a second focussing on music produced in Arkansas or by Arkansans. Among the artists featured this year are Barbara Lynn, Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson, Paul Burch, Billy Lee Riley, and Sister Ernestine Washington. A sampling of features from the issue is available here, and don’t miss this fun q&a with the contributors here as well.
Among the highlights of the new issue of Southern Cultures are John Egerton (perhaps my favorite food writer) on custard pie; the Lee Brothers (they’re everywhere!) on buttermilk; and N.C. favorites Jean Anderson (on sweet potato pie), Bill Smith (on halved-crap soup), and Mama Dip (on “Fooling Her Papa with a Dessert.” If you have a question about what makes Southern food Southern… well, there’s an article on that too. The issue also includes a free DVD, Put It On The Skillet, which claims to feature “the best short food films collected anywhere.” Among them: an overview of the Southern Foodways Alliance‘s documentary film initiative, “Capital Q” about the Skylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., and “A Red Hot Dog Digest: A Travelogue along the Lee Highway” about those dyed-red hot dog and a series of restaurants in Southwestern Virginia. (I get hungry just thinking about that last one.)