My favorite part about recipes is thinking about how a particular recipe came to be. Was it passed down from a family member, created spur-of-the-moment, adapted from a beloved cookbook or chef, or was it a recipe that was simply engrained in one’s memory—no traceable origin to speak of. Food tells many stories. At the LongHouse Food Revival, a weekend-long event hosted by Molly O’Neill of CookNScribble, the stories were just as plentiful as the food.
Set in a big old red barn in upstate New York, LongHouse was a retreat for food lovers. The entire weekend was devoted to celebrating the often-overlooked cuisine from the Midwestern part of the United States. It turns out that the so-called “flyover states” have much more to offer in the culinary department than we realize.
On Saturday morning, hundreds of food writers, chefs, and food lovers of all kind gathered in the LongHouse barn to hear stories about the Midwest and the food that so many know and love. We heard an ode to Jell-O, the gelatinous treat that originated in Iowa and found its way into neon-green “salads” and different shaped molds across the country. We learned about how farmers managed such a large amount of land, and we were challenged to rethink the word “local” and how it pertains to those living in states that are three, four, even ten times the size of Massachusetts. Culinary historian Michael Twitty talked about his migration from Alabama to Ohio, while author Bruce Kraig spoke of the melting pot, the “ethnic stew” that is the Midwest.
Chefs Carlos Gaytan, Ed Lee, Alex Young of Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Neftali Duran and Alicia Walter cooked up a feast of fire roasted vegetables, slow cooked beef, Midwest-inspired grits, coleslaw, and creamy mac and cheese. The star of the show was the 200 lb. pig roast, cooked for over 12 hours!
For dessert, we took turns spinning the big pie wheel that decided our fate of which type of pie we would try. But by the end, we weren’t going to let luck get in the way of our favorite slice—so we chose whatever kind we wanted. For me: one slice of blueberry, one slice of cherry, and a generous scoop of Jenni Britton Bauer’s lemon blueberry ice cream.