In their new book, The World in a Skillet: A Food Lover’s Tour of the New American South out March 24, authors and husband-wife team Paul and Angela Knipple explore the ever-changing state of Southern foodways. The couple spent three years eating their way through the South; collecting recipes and stories from first-generation immigrants.
From Pastel de Choclo—a Bolivian-style corn pie similar to the classic comfort-food casseroles familiar to any Southerner who has attended a potluck or funeral—to the Brazilian version of sautéed collard greens; the Knipples discovered common themes and flavors through their research. They say this is a very exciting time to be a Southerner, as immigrants continue to bring new flavors and ingredients to the region expanding the definition of Southern food.
Paul, a jovial man in nature with a sarcastic wit, and Angela a soft-spoken enthusiast, are from Memphis. The pair started their careers in IT, before transitioning full-time to the kitchen. Their book includes 50 recipes from their travels spanning 10,000 miles across the South, and a foreword by Southern Foodways Alliance director and food writer, John T. Edge.
All recipes were tested by Paul, Angela, and Angela’s mother—a willing supporter until she drew the line at beef tongue. Between the recipes, you’ll get to know the people and the places behind the foods. Chapter openers give insight into topics like keeping Kosher and Halal in “The Land of Pork,” and the secret in menus of Chinese restaurants that show the melding of culinary traditions as people from all over the world move to our region.
Last week, the duo stopped by Alabama Booksmith in Homewood, Alabama to sign copies of the book hot off the press. The Knipples came bearing snacks: eggrolls from nearby Mr. Chen’s Chinese Cooking in Hoover. Paul and Angela say the secret to dining at Xia Chun Chen’s restaurant is to let him surprise you with one if his specialties. “Don’t order the Orange Chicken,” Paul advised.
So what’s on Paul and Angela’s plate this spring? The couple just completed the manuscript for Farm Fresh Tennessee—a guide to farms, farmers markets, and other Tennessee-grown products. Soon, they will start developing recipes for a catfish cookbook. “We spark each other’s love of food,” the couple said, and we have a feeling they’re going to be sparking a love of food in kitchens all across the South.
Meet Paul and Angela on one of the next stops of their tour.
April 20, 3:30 p.m.
Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC
April 22, 12 p.m.
Buford Highway Farmer's Market, Doraville, GA
June 9, 12 p.m.
Memphis Botanical Garden, Memphis, TN
By: Jessica Cox