I finally got around to watching the quite friendly and civil debate pitting Matt and Ted Lee vs John T. Edge on SCETV's Take on the South. Definitely worth a watch.
John T. had the harder assignment, I think, since he was trying to defend the proposition that there is a "real Southern cooking" that had some empirically pure version at some point in the past, while Matt and Ted could easily point out how Southern cooking has evolved steadily over the centuries. John T. did pretty well, though, with his call to understand traditions first and then to innovate from there and with his arguing the essential nature of micro-regional variations in traditional Southern cookery.
It was a straw man argument from the beginning, but according to moderator Walter Edgar over 80% of the viewers polled prior to the debate took the conservative "there is one and only one real Southern cooking" position. (I would be curious to know the age demographics of those respondents . . .)
Good fun and educational, too: all four of these guys really know their Southern food history.
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