Events

3rd Annual DCC Cook-off: Bring on the Beans, Greens and Cornbread, Y'all!

January 19, 2019 11:00 AM to January 19, 2019 2:00AM

Hunt Education Center - 105 Missouri Street, Helena AR



Additional Event Details

Bring on the ‘Beans, Greens and Cornbread,’ and you’ve got the Delta Cultural Center’s (DCC) third annual culinary heritage cook-off! The DCC will celebrate this intriguing dimension of the region’s cultural heritage with a cook-off that applauds the unique tastes of the Arkansas Delta. It has been said that not even music is as distinctly characteristic of this area as the spreading of a feast of native foods before a gathering of kin, neighbors, and friends. 

Appropriately called ‘Beans, Greens and Cornbread,’ the cook-off continues to grow--so much so that last year it was moved to a venue with the capacity to accommodate cooks who come from throughout Arkansas and the region, as well as the large crowd of tasters and spectators.So, mark your calendar for Saturday, January 19, 2019, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be held at the Hunt Education Building, 105 Missouri Street, in historic downtown Helena.

Celebrity judges will choose winners in three categories: Best beans, leafy greens, and cornbread offerings. In addition to the judges’ choices, the audience will sample the dishes and select one audience favorite!Entry in the cook-off is free, but registration is required. To register, contact the DCC at 870.338.4350, or [email protected]  Registration deadline is January 18.

According to Dr. Kyle Miller, director of the DCC, food plays a major role in telling the story of a region’s cultural heritage. “Especially in the Delta, food is a sort of colloquial history which tells the story that is singularly ours,” he said.“‘Beans, Greens and Cornbread’ is more than just a cook-off.It’s a living history exhibit that is accessible to people from all walks of life.And, it’s a fun way for people to share Arkansas folk stories and enjoy some really good food--food that reflects our distinct heritage.”

Though the DCC is a cultural heritage and history museum, sometimes it may not be as easy to communicate to the public through traditional interpretive exhibits exactly what the cultural heritage part of that means.According to Thomas Jacques, assistant director of the DCC, people understand the history part of what the DCC is because history is not as ambiguous in most minds as cultural heritage tends to be.Jacques puts it this way.“Cultural heritage is the interpretation of the Delta’s history through music, religious affiliations, quilting, the way people gather in good times and sad times.It interprets how we do everything in our daily lives-- then and now--even how we cook and what we eat.” It is this understanding of ‘cultural heritage’ that gave birth to the DCC’s ‘Beans, Greens and Cornbread’ cook-off.

Southern cooks have always creatively drawn upon the mix of cultures that once collided to create the South we know today--most notably, Native American, African, and European cultures.In fact, the same basic foods in the south exist as they did three centuries ago. “Our ‘Beans, Greens, and Cornbread’ cook-off is an excellent example of how different foods that are affiliated with our history here in the Delta, are lived out in our culture every day and around the dinner table,” Jacques said.So, it is no co-incidence that the selected categories of food in this competition are foods that are staples of both the Delta’s history and its culture.

“Cornbread is one of my favorites. They’re always so different--some with a little sweetness, others without any sweetness at all. There’s crackling cornbread, and still others with jalapeños, or corn mixed in,” Jacques carefully distinguishes.“They all are a tasty twist on one of the Delta’s most authentic breads--besides that of biscuits, or top-of-the-stove prepared flour hoecakes.Cornbread is just one great example of the Delta’s cultural heritage represented through food,” he explained.

Speaking of cornbread and the idea of a cook-off as the museum worthy cultural heritage event that this cook-off is for the DCC, most Southern cooks would agree that no true Southerner would ever be caught cooking cornbread in anything except a cast iron skillet. Cast iron is the crux of most Delta cooking.

In fact, John T. Edge,director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi is quoted as saying, “Each time a Southern cook hefts a skillet to the stovetop, he or she is not alone. Trapped within the iron confines of these skillets and stewpots are the scents and secrets of a family’s culinary history” passed down from generation to generation through a well-seasoned, black cast iron skillet.So, arguably, even the utensils used to prepare a meal speak to a way of life defined as one’s cultural heritage.

Yet, like food, the DCC recognizes that cultural heritage is a very personal experience.‘Beans, Greens, and Cornbread’ is just like that!The event serves up a close and personal slice of the Delta’s rich southern cultural heritage. ‘Beans, Greens, and Cornbread’, y’all!

The ‘Beans, Greens, and Cornbread’ Cook-off is free and open to the public.It’s a family-friendly favorite that the Delta Cultural Center shares with food and history lovers all around the State. Anyone can enter the competition, and everyone is invited to come and taste!  Visit the DCC at facebook.com/DeltaCulturalCenter.

 


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