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Scenes from the Music to Your Mouth Festival 2012

The scene at the Potlikker Block Party, which included film screenings, live music, and absurd amount of barbecue and chicken and waffles.
The scene at the Potlikker Block Party, which included film screenings, live music, and absurd amount of barbecue and chicken and waffles.
[Photos: Bonjwing Lee]

Over the weekend in Bluffton, South Carolina — that's about thirty minutes from Savannah and two hours from Charleston — the 2012 edition of the Music to Your Mouth Festival took place along the riverfront grounds of the Inn at Palmetto Bluff. Attendees were treated to food, wisdom, and bourbon from most of the major Southern chefs, like Sean Brock, Ashley Christensen, John Currence, and Hugh Acheson, as well as yankees like New York's Alex Raij. On its face, MTYM's mix of grand tastings, dinners, and seminars makes it look, in some ways, like just another of the many, many food festivals out there. But it stands out for a couple of reasons:

First and foremost, it's basically a retreat. Both the attendees and the visiting chefs travel to the Bluff and spend several days on the complex, riding around golf carts, biking, drinking, and throwing parties at the different cottages and houses around the grounds. If you can afford to make it to the festival and rent out a place, you'll find that the line between attendee and talent is pleasantly blurred, giving enthusiasts the chance to access those they want to learn from.

Because the festival keeps the numbers down, there are virtually no lines at any of the events, whether that's for booze or for food. Unthinkable at most major culinary events, very few of the booths at the culinary festival (the grand tasting) had descriptions of the dishes. Your only option was to ask Linton Hopkins about what was on the beef rib or talk to the winemakers about what they had brought to the party.

Finally, the food, drinking, and fun were augmented by context and history, for those interested in such things. John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, moderated cooking demonstrations during the grand tasting, hosted seminars during the day, and presented several short documentaries from the SFA during the block party. It was a weekend about enjoyment, but also about celebrating and promoting the cooking traditions of the region.

Also, there was this:

bourbon-pig-eater.jpg[Photo: Gabe Ulla/Eater]

See the photo gallery above for highlights from some of the more popular events of the festival.

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