In the latest issue of Garden & Gun, the magazine that celebrates all things Southern, writer John T. Edge uses his Fork in the Road column to immerse himself in Atlanta's vast array of Korean culture. Along with Joe Kwon, bassist for folk/rock band The Avett Brothers, Edge finds that the collision of Korean and Southern culture may be the best representation of the New South.
"There are many ways to define the South," Edge writes in the column. "Few Work. Mashups of geographical barriers and cultural traits fail us. ... I've long chased a more expansive definition of my people and our place. But I never suspected that one path to that definition would went through a phalanx of Korean strip malls.
The majority of their tour traverses the northern side of the metro area. Among the many dishes sampled by Edge and Kwon, a native of South Korea who grew up in High Point, N.C., are beef short ribs at Cho Sun Ok, miso-marinated brisket at Heirloom Market BBQ, marinated pork belly at Iron Age, and shrimp and rice grits with makgeolli butter sauce at Sobban. It's a two-day feast that led the writer to a realization about the region he calls home.
"Two days and more than fifteen meals later," writes Edge, "Joe and I now know enough to say that, as the Magnolia Curtain drops and the South accommodates new arrivals with new palates, Korean immigrants — who were not born here but, more important, choose to live and work here — may prove as key to defining the culinary path of this place as those of us who spent our childhood days in knee pants, running barefoot down gravel drives."
Read the full column in the August/September issue of Garden & Gun, which is on newsstands now.