At last night's "New South for the New Southerner with Peter Reinhart" program at the Levine Museum of the New South, staff historian Dr. Tom Hanchett provided a lot of quirky facts about the city we live in. Hanchett facilitated a discussion with the crowd and answered the people's burning questions about Charlotte. Questions that were asked included:
Why do the streets change names so much? (Pre-established neighborhoods each had their own street system. No one wanted to change their neighborhood street names when the streets were joined together.)
Where is the gold located? (At the corner of Carson and South Boulevard)
Who is this "Sharon" person for which everything in town is named? (Sharon isn't a person, rather a place mentioned in the Bible, in the book Isaiah. Early settlers named everything after that place: Sharon Road, Sharon Amnity, Sharon West, etc.)
Was Truman Capote's aunt really a Charlotte resident? (Not sure.)
Why is uptown called uptown? (Lots of debate, but the main streets of the early city, Trade and Tryon, crossed at the top of the hill on which the town was built. Others say it was changed to uptown from downtown so it would sound more upbeat.)
After the quickie history lesson, bread baking guru and Johnson & Wales University Chef-on-Assignment Peter Reinhart took the stage to share his story: "A Northern Baker Discovers Southern Bread & Biscuits."
The James Beard cookbook award-winning author brought along with him a batch of biscuits for the crowd. Dressed in a white chef jacket, Reinhart, a Northerner from Philadelphia (and California), spoke of biscuits, bread, and his search of the perfect pizza. (I could feel the drool forming at the corner of my mouth as he described "Touch of Grace Biscuits" that are light as air, buttery, and melt-in-your mouth.)
After his light-hearted and humorous tales, Reinhart stuck around to chat with a line of fans and to sign books. One fan even brought in a loaf of his sunken bread-machine bread for Reinhart to trouble-shoot. The highlight for me was when I got a picture taken with him and he signed my book "May your bread always rise!"
The program last night also included food from Mert's Heart and Soul. Attendees chowed down on cornbread, fried chicken, baked beans, coleslaw and green beans with bacon. Not bad for the $5 program fee!
If you missed the program last night, you can catch Peter Reinhart again at Davidson College next week. He will be giving the same talk Tuesday, January 13 at 7:00 p.m. The evening will include discussion and light hors d'oeuvres. Admission is free. To rsvp, please call 704.894.2101.