What’s Cooking? Food makes the Showcase special

What makes the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase special? The unique stories of the food purveyors who participate in this annual event. This year’s Showcase on Sunday, May 6 at James Monroe’s Highland from 12:00 to 5:00pm will feature several master artists demonstrating their skills plus a special guest serving up delicious eats for the public to enjoy.

Tina Ingram-Murphy and Cheryl Maroney-Yancey
Soul Food Cooking apprenticeship: 2017-2018

Tina Ingram-Murphy, the youngest daughter of Richmond gospel matriarch Maggie Ingram, hosts a monthly Sunday supper at her Hernrico County home where nobody goes away hungry. Her daughter Cheryl Yancey is apprenticing under her to learn the recipes and techniques of soul food cooking. Photographs made on Ingram-Murphy’s birthday on Sunday, 3/4/18. Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities

Christine “Tina” Ingram-Murphy is the youngest daughter of the late Richmond gospel legend Maggie Ingram who, in 1961, moved her family to Richmond, where she formed the group Sister Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes with Tina and her other four children. Maggie was an incredible cook, preparing delicious meals by stretching the most sparse and inexpensive of ingredients, often feeding many more than her own family. The Ingrams are still known for their remarkable community work, providing meals for the needy around the Richmond region. Having regularly consulted with Maggie on certain dishes and also learning from elder women at her church, Tina became a master of what many call soul food, the tasty and resourceful home-cooking style associated with African Americans in the South. While drawing heavily from tradition, Tina also makes healthy adjustments to her recipes. Her favorite dishes include candied carrots, purple cabbage, strawberry-banana pudding, southern cornbread, garlic mashed potatoes, turkey, meatloaf, baked spaghetti, and collard greens. Tina has shared family kitchen lore with daughter Cheryl Maroney-Yancey, a current Ingramette who participated as a Master Artist in gospel singing in the 2014 Apprenticeship Program. The Ingram family will be serving up plates of soul food at the Showcase.

Marta Palchik
Argentine Empanadas
Arlington, VA – Special Guest

Marta Palchik will make empanadas at the showcase (photo by Violeta Palchik)

Empanadas are a food that span a multitude of historical and geographic reaches in their origin and influences. Empanar literally means to wrap in bread or dough, a technique which makes for great snacks and portable meals by keeping the warm, steamy, heat trapped inside a shell. Possibly the first evidence of an empanada was found in Persia dating from 100 BCE. When the Moors invaded Spain, the Spanish empanada came into being and was later spread throughout Latin America where each country and region developed its own version. The Argentine empanada, which itself has a multitude of regional variants, is a staple of the country’s cuisine. It is made with a flour dough, more often baked rather than fried, and the classic filling is of ground beef, raisins, olives, and hardboiled egg. Folding the dough takes practice to learn, and the technique, called repulgue, creates a twisted two-strand braid along the edge of the empanada. Marta Palchik was born and raised in Buenos Aires by parents who immigrated from Poland and Lithuania in the early 1900s. Her mother often cooked borsht and kreplach, typical Ashkenazi foods not common in Argentina. Marta first learned to cook Argentine food when she met her future husband and his mother, Docha. Marta was fascinated by Docha’s flavorful and elegant cooking and eagerly absorbed her knowledge. When Marta and her family moved to Virginia in 1989, she kept the traditions alive by teaching her four children how to do the repulgue for empanadas. Her son, Gabriel, expanded on his mother’s techniques by perfecting various traditional Argentine empanada recipes. Under the name Empanaderia Bar, he now sells them at farmers’ markets in Northern Virginia. Marta will sell her empanadas at the Showcase.

Joey Mirabile of Joey’s Hotdogs
2016-2017 Master Artist

Joey Mirabile serves the same kind of hot dogs his father Tony made famous at his hot dog shop in Norfolk starting in the 1930s (Pat Jarrett/The Virginia Folklife Program)

Those familiar with Joey’s Hot Dogs, in Richmond’s West End, know these dogs are the pinnacle of what is one of America’s iconic foods. Joey’s father, Tony, started serving hot dogs at age fourteen at the start of World War II in 1939, when he worked for Bacali’s Hot Dogs in Norfolk. Known to many as “The Hot Dog Boy,” Tony sold hot dogs to celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., when they came to perform and stay at Virginia Beach’s first resort hotel, the Cavalier Inn. Joey’s mother, Geri, had worked at the soda fountain at the nearby People’s Drug Store. Tony and Geri married in 1950, and in 1962, Geri opened Tony’s Hot Dogs in Norfolk. Initially, she also served hamburgers and root beer floats, but when Tony took over running the business a couple of years later, he scaled back to just hot dogs with mustard, onions, and chili—no ketchup or chips allowed. In 1969, they opened a second store in Virginia Beach, which soon became a prominent fixture in the Beach’s culinary landscape. Joey opened his first Richmond location in 2007, carrying on the tradition, using the same chili recipe his dad served back in the 1930s. Joey will be serving up these delicious dogs at the Showcase.

 

Proclamation Stew Crew – Brunswick Stew
2003-2004 Master Artists

Quinton Nottingham of the Proclamation Stew Crew stirs the pot. (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)

What began—according to local legend—as a communal meal prepared for a hunting expedition in Brunswick County on the banks of the Nottoway River in 1828, has since become a time-honored regional tradition. The cooking of Brunswick Stew is now a staple at community gatherings, a source of local pride, the focus of spirited competition, and a true Virginia culinary art. Recipes for stews, which are prepared to feed hundreds of people from one pot, are guarded vigilantly. Stew chefs traditionally apprenticed with “stewmasters,” a title that takes years to attain. John D. Clary began helping to prepare Brunswick stew in 1973 and eventually ascended to the level of stewmaster in 1988. John has been an avid participant in the “Stew Wars” with Brunswick, Georgia, which also asserts a claim to the stew’s origin. His crew has won numerous cook-offs in Brunswick County over the years. With his fellow stewmasters Lonnie Moore and the late Phil Batchelor, he has mentored dozens of apprentices over the years, including members of the Proclamation Stew Crew: Chiles Cridlin, P.L. Baisey, Bobby Swain, Terry Swecker, Richard Bailey, John Norton, Quinton Nottingham, and Bimbo Coles, among many others. They will cook any size stew, anywhere, for anyone, as long as it doesn’t interfere with a Virginia Tech football game. For the Showcase, they will prepare 500 quarts for sale for the public to enjoy on site or take home.

Frances Davis – Fried Apple Pies
2008-2009 Master Artist

Frances Davis cooks up fried apple pies (photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program)

Known as “Fried Apple Pies,” “Dried Apple Pies,” or even “Fried Dried Apple Pies,” these locally made pies seem to have a ubiquitous presence throughout Southwest Virginia, appearing on the counters and shelves of country stores, gas stations, and community festivals. The defining characteristic of the pie is its intense flavor, accomplished through the use of dried apples rehydrated through a long simmering process with brown sugar. While each community likely stakes a claim for one of its local pie makers, Frances Davis of Rocky Mount takes the title as the ultimate “Fried Apple Pie Lady.” Her delicious fried-dough pies have been featured at festivals around the state. Frances was one of six children born to a sharecropping family. She learned to cook from her mother, and by the age of twelve was responsible for cooking for her entire family, as well as caring for other children too young to go to the fields. “I had to get up each morning around four, get the fire started to heat the house, and then be sure to have three full meals ready when the grownups came in from the field. Honestly, I didn’t really have a life as a child, because I had a big responsibility.” This responsibility led Frances to become one of the most respected and creative home chefs in the region and one of the most popular participants of Folklife festivals around the state. Frances’s pies will be for sale at the Showcase.

Sondus Asad Moussa and Sanaa Abdul Jalil – Baklava Making
2018-2019 Apprenticeship Team

Sondus Asad Moussa and Sanaa Abdul Jalil, apprenticeship team in baklava making. Photo by Theresa Kubasak.

Despite a population of just over 50,000, Harrisonburg is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in Virginia. Today, the Harrisonburg–Rockingham County community includes refugees and immigrants from all parts of the globe. Arabic is the second most spoken language in the public schools, as Harrisonburg has welcomed large populations of refugees from Iraq and Syria in recent years. One of Harrisonburg’s recent arrivals is Sondus Asad Moussa, owner of the Baghdad Market, a Mediterranean specialty store. Several times each week, Sondus layers up delicate leaves of phyllo dough, brushing clarified butter between each, and sprinkling on her special blend of walnuts, almonds, and cardamom to make baklava, a true culinary art form. Sondus grew up following her mother and grandmother around the kitchen asking a myriad of questions. “My grandmother put butter in everything,” she recalls, “so I use local, organic butter from Mount Crawford Creamery. It’s the best!” Her grandfather migrated from Turkey to Nineveh/Mosul in Iraq during World War I and she attributes her family’s taste for baklava to this Turkish heritage. Her taste for exquisite baklava intensified as a child because her father would stop on his way home from work on Karrada Street at Abu Afif, the best sweets shop in the city. Between her father’s habit of eating half a tray of baklava in one sitting and her mother’s baking at home, Sondus developed a love of the multi-layered Middle Eastern treat. Sondus will apprentice her neighbor, Iraqi-born Sanaa Abdul Jalil. Sanaa has lived in Harrisonburg since 2015, and is excited to learn the art of baking from Sondus. Samples of Sondus’s delicious baklava will be available at the Showcase.

Gene Williams and Lee Bagley – Candy Making
2017-2018 Apprenticeship Team

Gene, left, and his brother Dave Williams fold the hard candy mixture with metal sticks before shaping it. Master candy maker Gene Williams makes hard candy by hand with his family at the H.E. Williams Candy Company the same way his grandfather did 100 years ago. He is apprenticing Lee Bagley on the day-to-day operations. Photographs made at the Chesapeake business on 12/18/17.
Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program

The early 1900s saw a surge of independent candy makers in Virginia, with dozens of confectioners operating statewide, from Bristol to Norfolk. In 1917, a young candy enthusiast named Shafter Litchfield Williams, of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, began to hone his craft at the Weatherly Candy Company in Elizabeth City, one of the earliest mass-production candy factories in the country. After his apprenticeship at Weatherly, Williams moved to the Berkeley neighborhood of Norfolk and started the S.L. Williams Candy Company in 1919. The company has stayed in the family for generations, and in 2018 will be celebrating 100 years in the candy business, as one of the last remaining family-run hard candy producers in Virginia. While doing little to no advertising, and not participating in social media or owning a website, Williams Candy Company still maintains a throng of passionately devoted customers, often lining up for blocks to get a taste of their legendary Peach Buds, Cinnamon Swirls, or Christmas Candy. Gene, a third-generation candy-maker, grew up in his family’s candy shop, and learned the art of candy making from his father, Harold Eugene Williams, and uncle, Shafter Williams, Jr. Williams’ family lore recounts that when Gene was a toddler he would stand on a stool beside the factory machinery and correct his father and uncle’s work. When Gene is not working on his farm, he is the main candy maker at the factory, and is one of the true masters of his craft. As journalist Don Harrison wrote, “Watching the burly, smiling farmer make a steaming batch of hard candy is not unlike studying a sculptor as he works his tools or a painter mixing and dripping colors. Gene’s medium is sugar, corn syrup and food coloring.” Gene always welcomes the opportunity to teach anyone the trade, but for his Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship he is once again keeping it in the family, having tutored his cousin, Lee Bagley. Samples will be available at the showcase.

 

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