Grist for the Mill
When I was in college, and first thinking about what I wanted to do with myself, I had a conversation with the man I was dating about what it meant to live the life of a writer. The gist of his concern was that he wasn’t really sure he wanted to spend a lot of time with a person who needed to go out and take a bunch of risks for the sake of her art. (We were kids. We were reading a lot of Hemingway and Plath, and he had once dated a woman who said “for the sake of my art” a lot.) But I didn’t want to be some kind of freewheeling, femme Hunter S. Thompson. It seemed like that was a path to exhaustion rather than art, and that it wasn’t going to take me anyplace new.
The question becomes, of course, just where does the new come from?
Welcome to our five-year anniversary here at edible Upcountry. Since we began, we’ve circulated over 300,000 magazines, and told some 600 unique stories. We’ve developed relationships with more than 300 advertising partners in the community, over the course of 22 issues. To celebrate these milestones, we’ve devoted this issue to the farmers and chefs and food artisans who are bringing innovation to the Upstate.
To a number, these are people who are using their brains and talents to reimagine their fields (and kitchens and classrooms), not by hanging on by the skin of their teeth, but through respect for what they love. Tradd Cotter grows mushrooms that, when added to beer, support a healthy liver (“The Scholar,” page 16). Daniel Dobbs is serving rabbit tacos in Marietta (“The Restaurateur,” page 28), as well as some of the best Sunday fried chicken around. Walker and Zoe Miller of The Happy Berry are excited about the idea of using solar-powered drones to keep the birds off their blueberries (“Last Bite,” page 62). Again and again in these pages, you’ll read stories of smart people finding new means to express the foodways that have thrived in our region for generations. Their paths are not without risk, but appreciation for what has come before supports what comes next.
Talking with Kirk Ingram at American Grocery, it all came together. “Innovation,” he said, “has a lot to do with adapting, and transitions.” He was shaking up his cocktail featured in The Dish (page 25), The Autumn Sweater, a blend of bourbon, smoked maple, black walnut bitters and allspice. It was 98° outside, but the flavor and feeling of all that crisp autumn air was captured in the glass before me.
As one of my very good writer friends likes to say, here’s to elegant transitions. And thank you to our readers, who make all of these conversations worthwhile.