Delta Wok Teaser
A Delta Wok is a collaborative project conceived by Emily Jones (Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum, Easton Selby (chair of Visual Arts at Coastal Carolina University, Delta State University Alumnus, and 2008 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award recipient for photography), and Tim Hodge (former student of Easton Selby and a graduate of the School for Visual Arts with a M.F.A.in photography, video and related in Manhattan, NY). The idea developed through a previous collaboration by Jones and Selby. Due to the shrinking population of the Delta Chinese and the thirst for preserving their legacy the idea for a cookbook and series of documentary teasers was born.
The Mississippi Chinese have played a key role in the social and economic growth of the delta culture. It was agriculture that brought the families to the region, but it was a socio-economic bond through race that brought them into the groceries. Since the late 1800’s Chinese groceries fed the families of the delta. The groceries were not just a place to purchase goods, but they were the homes and havens for Chinese families. It was in those stores that family meals were created, food was eaten, stories were told, and traditions were maintained; much like the traditional southern table. A traditional Chinese meal is how families were able to stay connected to their roots. Exploring titles for this project, Jones and Selby took to hear the alluvial, bowl shape of the Delta and found that shape mirrored in the primary piece of all Chinese kitchens, the wok. Therefore, “The Delta Wok” seemed a perfect working title for this project.
The Delta Wok project aims to preserve this rich cultural tradition while educating the community through foodways–the intersectional explorations of culture, tradition, and history as told through the stories of cuisine. A short series of documentaries and ultimately a cookbook will explore the culinary trends and traditions of the Mississippi Delta Chinese. Our goal will be achieved through collected and archived stories of personal journeys, photographs of cooking traditions (past and present) and family recipes, while simultaneously perpetuating the education of an underserved culture that has historically woven race relations together in the Mississippi Delta.