Spring time is the best time to pick up a book. There are plenty of opportunities to lazily sit out on the patio or in a hammock and read. Even better wait for a good rain shower and find a good window to sit by.
I like to think that is part of the reason the Arkansas Literary festival likes to hold the event in the spring. Truthfully it is a combination of it being the most beautiful time to enjoy central Arkansas, and the fact that authors are just getting started on their summer book tours.
Regardless this year I get the pleasure to moderate a panel this Saturday (April 29th) at 11:30 featuring two local authors who have some great books on the food we all know and love.
First up is Rex Nelson who last year released his book Southern Fried: Going Whole Hog in a State of Wonder. The book is a collection of some of his best writings while at the Democrat Gazette. It is not all food, although food plays a very vital role in the bulk of the book as he travels around the state telling very interesting stories from small town Arkansas.
Rex is a guy I have looked up to for many years. We are both Ouachita Baptist grads and during my four years the admiration for Rex on campus was very obvious. Rex is quite possibly the most knowledgeable person I have ever met on the culture of Arkansas, and throughout the book there are a ton of great stories. I certainly recommend picking it up.
Alongside him is Anne Martin with her book Delta Hot Tamales: History, Stories & Recipes. Hot Tamales for me are the quintessential Delta food, there is just nothing quite like them, and (IMO) every other region that tries to replicate them ends up falling short.
Anne looks at some of the top spots all around the Delta for tamales, giving some back story on each place, sharing some photos, giving the backstory on how tamales came to the region and variations, and sharing some of her favorite tamale recipes.
The stories told by both Rex and Anne paint a picture, in many ways, of how our local food scene evolved to what it is today. Arkansas has always been a bit of a melting pot of regional culture and food, with a little of our own original spice mixed in the middle.
Pick up the books when you get a chance, both have a way to order online above, or better yet head out to a local bookstore like Wordsworth in the Heights. Head out to the Literary Festival at the main Central Arkansas Library this Saturday at 11:30 to hear both of these authors talk about their book, and to meet them at a book signing immediately following the discussion.