Delta and Derby Adventures

Although I’ve only been in Jackson for just over a month, I already feel strangely at home here–like  buying a new pair of shoes that are somehow perfectly broken in. It does help that the city is small (or smallish), that I’m an adaptable person, and that I live with two amazing FoodCorps gals that match my enthusiasm for cooking, composting and kimchi.

FoodCorps MS gals. Claire, on the far left is one of my housemates.

FoodCorps MS represent. These ladies like dirt too.

And luckily, my effort to try new things and meet new people has been exponentially rewarded by the Mississippi universe.

Two weekends ago, I went up to the Delta with some friends to see a blues festival in Greenville whose motto is: “Da Blues Is Like Comin’ Home.” Like any good music festival, it was a day of relaxing on the lawn, drinking PBR (although most of the locals were drinking Bud Light…), and getting serenaded by some talented musicians. Unlike your typical music festival, these musicians included Bill “Howl-n-Madd” Perry, a blind, gravelly voiced guitar player, Sweet Angel, whose booming voice and soulful tunes were dripping with innuendos (she also played the saxophone, if you know what I mean), and Bobby Rush, who performed in a shiny 70s-style salmon-hued suit accompanied by some curvaceous back-up dancers aka “booty rollers.”  If you want a taste of Mr. Rush, check out this video (depending on where you work, may be NSFW).

Friends, the main stage, bbq vendors, and the local stage at the Delta Blues Festival.

Friends, the main stage, bbq vendors, and the local stage at the Delta Blues Festival.

This particular slice of the Delta and the blues culture was so fascinating. There was an intricate balance of raw talent–even among the local groups–and highly sexualized showmanship. While it was refreshing to see curvy women appreciated for their bodies, there was also an uncomfortable level of sexism and degradation (again, please reference the Bobby Rush video). But, being an outsider, I did my best to  just live it without the pretense of understanding.

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As a lot of you know, my housemate Claire and I started playing roller derby a few weeks ago for the Magnolia Roller Vixens. We definitely don’t qualify as B.A.s yet since we still have to get good enough to pass a minimum skills test, but skating and learning the moves is a great workout and so much fun. The women on the team range from ages 20s to 40s; a handful of them have kids. All of them have been extremely welcoming and generous with their knowledge. It feels good to join a community of strong, motivated women, who don’t take no sh** from nobody!

We judged a chicken contest at the Homestead Center. The competition was tough.

We judged a chicken contest at the Homestead Center. The competition was tough.

Also, this past weekend was our Mississippi state-wide orientation. All of the service members, our fellow and the host site supervisor gathered at the Homestead Center in Starkville for a weekend of cooking, farm to school information sharing, and farm tours hosted by the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network (MSAN). If you’re interested, this article written about the tours on Sunday gives more information about MSAN and the fantastic work they do in Mississippi.

Enjoying some *unhealthy* but delicious 'Sippi bbq in Starkville. Fried green tomatoes and blackened catfish....yes please.

Enjoying some *unhealthy* but delicious ‘Sippi bbq in Starkville. Fried green tomatoes and blackened catfish….yes please.

Since this is already a lengthy post about my life outside of school, my next post will be more focused on my FoodCorps service:  what’s been going on with my school garden, new connections with local farmers, and the latest classroom cooking adventures.

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