On a quick escape to New Orleans during that first pandemic summer, I dropped by my cousin Zella Palmer’s for a little socially distanced catching up. Sitting on her front porch, she told me that she’d been contacted about writing a cookbook/memoir with Wilson barbecue pitmaster Ed Mitchell and his son Ryan. In a time of scarce good news, the alignment of family, friends, food, and folkways in this project felt especially serendipitous, and I urged her to do it.
My copy of their collaboration, its recipes interwoven with piquant stories and lush photographs of the Mitchell family and East Wilson, arrived yesterday. Surely you’ve got yours, too.
Marion Post Wolcott image of man and two women rendering fat after a hog killing, near Maxton, N.C., 1938. Library of Congress. (Not Wilson County, but this scene would have been familiar.)
Time to dig in those old scrapbooks. Black Wide-Awake is collaborating on a major research project, and we need your help! We are looking for African-American family photos of Wilson County pig pickings, whole hog barbecues, cookouts, and farm life. If you are interested in sharing your family photos for an amazing project that will celebrate the foodways, traditions, and legacy of Wilson, North Carolina, please contact Zella Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org. or Lisa Y. Henderson at email@example.com.