This post is part of a series where we interview prominent Southerners or Southern transplants about what they love so much about this area and why others should visit. If you are interested in being featured, leave a comment or send me an email.
Justin Fox Burks is the blogger behind The Chubby Vegetarian and, alongside wife Amy Lawrence, the author of the cookbook The Southern Vegetarian, which takes Southern classics and puts a healthy spin on them.
What do you love most about living in the South?
We love the long growing season. An ever-changing variety of vegetables starts coming in in March and doesn’t quit until the first freeze in late November or early December. Amy’s dad is a part-time farmer who produces a ton of vegetables.
Having fresh, delicious food at your fingertips all year long is such a luxury, and it fosters the kind of creativity that is on display in our book, The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table (Thomas Nelson, 2013).
What are your favorite places in Memphis?
Right now during the summertime, our favorite place to be is the backyard. In the South, everyone loves to cook, so impromptu gatherings, birthday parties, and cookouts are a great place for our friends and family to showcase a new dish or try out a great idea.
We just finished a wood-fired brick pizza oven in our own backyard, and it makes our house a pretty great place to be. Outside of that, we love to be in the kitchens of some of the great restaurants we have around here like Acre, Iris, Beauty Shop, Tsunami, Mayuri, or The Trolley Stop chatting with our friends and picking up a few techniques that we can utilize in our home kitchen.
What’s your favorite southern meal? What’s the best place to get it?
Our favorite Southern meal has to be the potluck. We have been really into family-style meals lately where everyone has to pass the dishes and share. While the food is always great, the focus is on a feeling of community and a shared experience.
What are your favorite southern traditions?
Celebrating anything and everything! The main entertainment is hanging out with people at home and cooking and eating together. That’s what it’s all about.
Thanks again to Justin for sharing his favorite Memphis spots. You can purchase his cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table, in bookstores or on Amazon. All photos are courtesy of Justin Fox Burks and used with permission.
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