Homemade Podcast Episode 29: Adam Richman on Soup, Spinach Pie, and Saving Local Restaurants
You'll be hungry for more food history after our chat with this TV host.
The Homemade podcast digs into the traditions and memories behind food, and it seems fitting that our first guest of the season stars in not one but two new series that share the stories behind some of America's most iconic foods. Perhaps best known as the original host of Travel Channel's popular "Man vs. Food," Adam Richman joins us this week to talk about two programs that premiere on the History Channel this month: "The Food That Built America" and "Modern Marvels."
Richman gives Homemade host Martie Duncan a sneak peek at the fascinating backstories behind our favorite brands, from pizza chains to the original Popsicle. In addition to sharing how food brands have kept small towns afloat through the generations, Richman talks about the importance of supporting our local food industries through the pandemic. Plus, he tells us all about his mother's signature soups. Download it for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts beginning February 17.
About Adam Richman
Between his undergrad years and earning a master's from the Yale School of Drama, Adam Richman embraced multiple restaurant roles. After, while acting in regional theaters across the United States, he kept a food journal of the restaurants he tried while on the road. These experiences prepared him for a career in food television. In 2008, he began hosting Travel Channel's "Man v. Food." He went on to star in Travel Channel's "Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America," "Fandemonium," and "Man Finds Food." Richman now hosts two History Channel series, "The Food That Built America" and "Modern Marvels."
MARTIE DUNCAN: Welcome to Homemade. On this show, we like to get the story behind the recipe, and that's something my guest today does very well. Like me, you may have first been introduced to Adam Richman on his wonderful hit show, Man vs. Food, where he spotlighted the small mom-and-pop restaurants across America, tracking down legendary eating challenges like the notorious Atomic Wings at Quaker Steak and Lube in Pittsburgh.
And although he's hung up his napkin as far as competitive eating goes, he's got two new programs debuting this month on the History Channel. We're going to dive into today and get into some amazing stories on the food brands we love and the people and machinery behind them. I want to welcome to Homemade Adam Richman. Adam, thank you for being on the show.
ADAM RICHMAN: Thank you for having me and for that very lovely intro.
MARTIE: I always have been completely charmed by you. I love the way that you interact with people when you go out to these places. But it was always so charming to me that you went into these places and made friends with the people and showcased them. And so I've always just been a big fan of that. But you've been everywhere and you have eaten everything.
ADAM: Well, I'm still working on it. I still have some glaring big spots in my resume that I have yet to fill in. But it's nice to hear that what I had wanted to do was achieved, because at the end of the day, we filmed Man vs. Food and Best Sandwich during a time, not unlike right now, where it's a hard time for independent restaurants. And so, these people would open their restaurants to us for 12 to 14 hours a day. These people go out of their way, tremendously.
So, my father always used to say respect for respect. You want respect, you have to show it. And when I lived in Montgomery for a year, I had a map of Alabama on my living room wall, and I would just absentmindedly stare and highlight places I wanted to go. So when I had a break, I would go to certain places, like, for example, I had to go to Brooklyn, Alabama.
MARTIE: Of course.
ADAM: Just because of the fact that there was one. I went to Pineapple, Alabama.
ADAM: Which is pretty amazing that they had the pineapple water tower. But then there were places that I just kind of wanted to go to because the names like Eufaula. I went to Gulf Shores and had throwed rolls.
MARTIE: Yes, at Lambert's.
ADAM: At Lambert's, exactly right. You catch them with the net. And Red's Little Schoolhouse.I got a proper education in all things Bama.
MARTIE: What I want to pick up on is when you said, what people are going through now. So we're still in the middle of this pandemic. Many restaurants have had to shutter because they don't have the ability to have outside seating or even if they do, maybe they — it just doesn't make sense financially for them to be open.
But what you and Guy Fieri have both done for small business owners, who don't have the big marketing budgets that these chains do, has been phenomenal. You brought attention to these local guys and you've helped create awareness of their product, of what they do, and their life and their heart that they put into this stuff.
So what can we all do right now, as hopefully this thing is starting to come to a close. Because you've been on the front lines. You've worked in restaurants and you visited so many. What do you think we can do to help our local restaurant owners right now?
ADAM: I think, number one, if this lands on the ears of any of these restaurant influencers who post about going to this place or going to this other place, continue to do it. Do it more than you ever have before. You know, some places are making these outdoor dwellings that are basically indoor, so it kind of ends up defeating the purpose. So, even if they can do outdoor seating, it doesn't really strike me as the most optimal eating conditions. So number one: tip generously. Tip five, 10 percent more than you normally do, whether it's a grocery delivery, whether it's a food delivery. Budget accordingly so that you could order at least one meal a week.
Even if it's just something mundane, if it doesn't compromise your health to interact with them, if people are taking COVID-safe precautions, that one extra muffin a week, that one extra something a week does have ramifications.
And if you are walking along and you happen to be out, even if you're not really hungry, picking up something for later, and again, tipping generously. You know, these restaurants, we just found out in New York are going to open at a quarter capacity and everybody thinks it's the same thing as reopening. And it isn't. And people that have never worked or work in a restaurant don't realize that in the best of times, you have to charge, generally speaking, three times what a dish costs just to slightly profit. So you have a salad that costs you $6 to make you have to charge $18 for it.
MARTIE: Yeah, people don't realize all that goes into. I did some shadowing at one of Frank Stitt's restaurants before I did Food Network Star because I'd never worked in a restaurant before. And I had not been on a line or anything. So Frank generously let me come and shadow for a few days.
MARTIE: I ended up going in at five in the morning and working with the pastry bakers and staying till almost midnight till the shifts were ended and tried to do every single job I could do behind the scenes, you know, everything they'd let me do, so I could learn. And I never had a clue what has to go in to the food between the time it is ordered till it gets on your plate. It is a substantial process.
ADAM: And we just filmed an episode of "Modern Marvels" with the one White Castle restaurant in the state of Pennsylvania. And you know, whether or not people eat fast food or agree with the politics of it, I'm not getting into it. But I'm just saying this: People who feel that that is the domain of, like, young kids or uneducated people could not be further from the truth. And I was floored by how much work they had to do, like these people had to do. And it's not just about preparing the food, but they're constantly restocking the bags, the napkins, the burger sleeves and cooking and doing dishes. And the manager was the one who pointed out to me — and bear in mind, this is just with the drive thru open.
This is an industry that supports more people than you know. And as someone with a background in the arts, you know, who came out of drama school and relied on the restaurant industry to keep me alive, as did most of my contemporaries, these are not just the restaurant lifers and the line cooks and the expediters and the chefs. And the bartenders that are hurting. But also it's all the ancillary people. The farmers in upstate New York, for example, were last March, April, May drastically impacted by the just tremendous shortfall of ordering as everything was shuttered.
MARTIE: Well, I think it's a great idea, so, y'all, when you go out to a restaurant and order for yourself and order one for later, that's what I always do. I live way out in the country. And so I don't get into town every day. So...
MARTIE: So that brings us, you said "Modern Marvels." So you've got two new shows coming out at the same time on the History Channel. And it's my favorite channel. My daddy always loved watching History Channel. So, one is "Modern Marvels" where you go behind the scenes at some of your favorite things, like the episode that I got a peek of was the one where you went to the Entenmann's factory and got to see them make the chocolate chip cookies. That was fun.
ADAM: Well, yeah, it's basically the modern mechanization of all the stuff we take for granted. So the first eight episodes are going to be food and directly tied back to "The Food That Built America." You know, when ice cream is a multibillion dollar a year business. The director of supply chain management in Turkey Hill, who is the great-grandson of the man who created Turkey Hill, he was a dairy farmer, had too much milk, used his grandma's recipe and then made ice cream, and sold it in town. That did well. They started doing that. Then this guy came over, pitched his grandpa, "Listen, you got these silos and you're not making ice cream. They can be full of ice tea." "No, they can't." "Yes, they can. Please try it." now. They make iced tea.
So, I think the two things are going to walk away with: Number one, it gives you a tremendous kick in the butt when it comes to being an entrepreneur. It did for me. It made me very aware. When I found out how many businesses Heinz had before he succeeded and how many failures. And then also how shrewd of a business man he was.
MARTIE: Relentless, too. Relentless.
ADAM: Relentless. But like, for example, that iconic bottle.
ADAM: The keystone bottle? Heinz found out people were copying his ketchup recipe and trying to copy the bottle. He bought all the bottles, put them on a boat and sank it so no one could get those bottles but him. That's a fact. That ship, the bottles, they are in the Allegheny.
MARTIE: Let's go get them! I bet they'd be worth something. Let's dig them up. Like the Titanic!
ADAM: I wouldn't doubt it. I wouldn't be, like Dom Pérignon from the Titanic, like you said. But I think the other thing is, you know, with "Modern Marvels," it's a tough tightrope. Right? Because obviously, the more machines do, the less people do. But, the machines are nothing without skilled people. So one of the things that I loved is that as the machines get more advanced, people get better training, and that allows them to springboard into other fields.
Or, in the case where we just filmed at Wise Potato Chips in Berwick, Pennsylvania, it's a mainstay in the community and people end up working there for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. And to see that there are corporations that inspire that kind of loyalty in the 21st century is something I most certainly didn't expect.
MARTIE: We have a lot of those here in Alabama, Adam. So that's why this show was so interesting to me. But I have to tell you, "The Food That Built America," man, I was fascinated with that. I watched the pizza episode.
MARTIE: And fascinated with the Pizza Hut dudes and the Domino's dudes and how that came to be, and then how it became like legendary. I remember there was no pizza in my town and then we got a Pizza Hut.
MARTIE: I mean, it was like — and then we got something called a Shakey's Pizza, which was really cool...
ADAM: I know Shakey's. Shakey's has a very dear place in my heart. I remember walking in Tokyo, Japan, in the sort of Omotesando shopping district and trying to buy clothes. And the thing is, I don't think — I know I'm not a lithe dancer, but I'm also not the largest man in the world. Yet, for a guy who wears like an XL or XXL, in Japan, I'm Shaq. So I was like trying to find "Can I find a pup tent with arms?" And I'm walking around and feeling very much like a fish out of water, a large fish out of water. And then all of a sudden I turn the corner and there's a Shakey's Pizza and a TGI's. I was like, "Oh, my gosh!"
MARTIE: There's no worse feeling, is there, to think like you're the largest person in a country?
ADAM: Yes and no. I think it depends. At the risk of my mother hearing this podcast of being less than happy about a less than gentlemanly statement coming forward. If you're in a culture that appreciates bigger, hairier, more awesome men, then — then you are in the proverbial catbird seat.
MARTIE: I love that you are still trying to make sure your mama hears what she needs to hear all these years later. And I'm so tickled to talk to you about her. And the one thing I love what she said, "Start every recipe with an onion."
ADAM: A big onion. yup.
MARTIE: Yeah, a big onion.
ADAM: Yeah, that's what my grandma Mary, may she rest in peace. So my grandma Mary always — you know, my grandparents were working. So my great-grandmother kind of was a mom figure to my aunt, uncle, and my mom. And my mother and my great-grandmother were very, very close. And yeah, every good recipe starts with a big onion, whatever it is, generally.
MARTIE: Now what's your favorite thing to make with your mom or your favorite recipe that your mom makes?
ADAM: OK, so without question, my favorite, I mean, it needs to be like its own food group — and it's not like spanakopita. My mom makes her version of a spinach pie. It has no crust. There's a little bit of bread crumbs to hold it together. But it's the type of thing that my college friends back at Emory would ask if I were bringing an extra one home. And my mom would often call me and say, "Is there anything you'd like me to prepare and have when you get home?" And then it was like spinach pie was like the letters R, N, S, T, L, and D on Wheel of Fortune, where they just give them to you. They already just know you're going to pick them.
ADAM: And so my mother was just like, "OK, I know, spinach pie, but..."
MARTIE: "But what else?"
ADAM: "What besides spinach pie?"
MARTIE: OK, walk me through how to make one really quick.
ADAM: Oh, it's — see, this is the thing. It's my mom's spinach pie is like Cacio e Pepe or throwing a knuckleball at Major League Baseball. I could teach you how to throw in an afternoon, but it will take you a lifetime to learn how to throw it for strikes.
MARTIE: Perfect it, yeah.
ADAM: So, basically, my mom thaws out a couple boxes of frozen spinach.
ADAM: Got to be frozen. Chopped spinach, not whole leaf. Eggs, ricotta, a little bit of Parmesan, a big onion that she has just lightly sautéed but she still wants to be a little crispy. So don't blanch it. Chop it, sweat it, take it right off the heat.
ADAM: Um, breadcrumb. Then you take some mozzarella and cube it like about the size of a playing di, and then you cut the rest like a domino or a mahjong tile. And then you basically make the mix. And my mom does it very much by feel and by sight. Preheat your oven to about 355, oil like a Pyrex pan, press the mixture in, and then lay the mozzarella on top. I think she starts it covered with foil and then finishes it uncovered.
MARTIE: Gets it brown on the top.
ADAM: Right. Exactly. I've tried to make it a few times and it's... OK. It's a pale approximation of mom's though.
MARTIE: You know, I lost my mom quite a long time ago, and I always thought I would remember all the recipes and I could make them because I'd made them with her so many times. But there's just some mom thing that goes into these things that she never talks about or never shows you, and they just don't taste the same. Even if you use the same pan, same oven, same kitchen, they just don't taste the same without the mom love.
ADAM: I agree. And it's funny, I spoke to a headshrinker about this a while back. He was explaining to me that when we have dreams or nightmares, as the case may be, about people we love passing, it's actually it's a manifestation of our love for them. And I had this awful dream once, and I remember in grad school, calling my mom sobbing how I had had a dream where she had passed and I tried to make a dish of hers. And it was — I envision myself sitting at this table by myself crying because it didn't taste the same. I'm getting emotional talking about that dream. And the thing is, you know, he was saying this is because you love her and this is a moment you cherish. And he said it won't taste the same. It just won't. Because that's the beauty of that parental connection.
But I also had — I was blessed to have great-aunts who are great cooks. And the funny thing is even now — you know, not to, like, make it about plugging the show — but the thing that I find so fascinating is, when I go to Turkey Hill, Derek's still talking about the way great grandma made ice cream. Even though Turkey Hills is this massive brand, even though Wise Potato Chips sells them to 15 different countries, there's still one person with the knife this big, breaking the potatoes and cutting the brown spots out.
Everyone has like a memory connected to that first flavor that they liked, that first thing that they liked, and that's the beauty and the power of food. So what we did was with "Modern Marvels" is — because "The Food That Built America" has that beautiful cinematic aspect where real actors in these beautiful sets and costumes, and you're right there, you're right at that moment of inspiration. And for me, because I am a geek and I love culinary anthropology. So I was blessed that they involve me. But the idea of "Modern Marvels" is, that's all well and great; I love that story from then. But how does that affect me now?
There's something about the brands we loved as a kid or the brands we loved growing up and then seeing how they're made. There is something about, "OK, here's the legend. But 'Modern Marvels' is the legacy."
So there's an ice cream episode because we learned about the feud between Good Humor and Popsicle, for example. People don't realize, the guy who created Popsicle did it by accident. He left a stirring stick in a beverage on the front porch of his home in San Francisco, came up the next day, had it. Recreated it, and his kids started referring to it as Pop's Icicle. And then it became Popsicle. For me, like when I go to the supermarket now, I'm looking at, you know, the...
MARTIE: A man and his family.
ADAM: Yes. And the design on the top of Oreos. And that Hydrox came first and then Hydrox, where the name comes from, how Sunshine and Nabisco were different, or the fact that Nabisco stands for National Biscuit Company. That Lorna Doone was the name of an actual girl.
MARTIE: A person, yeah.
ADAM: That Fig Newton was a fig cake cookie from a bakery in Newton, Massachusetts. You know these foods. You know these type of foods. You may even know these brands. But you'll never — I don't even look at them in the same way again. And I've been making my living in food television, you know, for the better part of the past 11 years, knock on wood.
MARTIE: The thing that I was always just fascinated is that all these places, all these things you see in the grocery store, typically they started in some mama's, grandmama's kitchen.
MARTIE: I mean, that's the shocking thing. I didn't know Ms. Stouffer was a real person. But my mother would let us have those Stouffer's French bread pizzas when we came home from school sometimes.
ADAM: So good.
MARTIE: And that was the only frozen food we were able to have in the house, really. She made everything from scratch. So, the Stouffer's, when I went to visit the the factory, I saw the picture of her and the story from when during the Depression and how she started feeding people to bring in money for her family.
MARTIE: I didn't know that. That — and that makes me love the brand even more. I know it's owned by somebody different now. Big deal. But that's the roots. That started with a mom trying to feed her family.
ADAM: Absolutely. I thought Wise was a cool name and they have the owl as, you know, a logo, never thinking this is an individual's last name. There was a man named Clarence Birdseye. It's a cool name for a vegetable company. But Clarence Birdseye was a real dude. We stand on the shoulders of giants culinarily, and we take for granted these names and we take for granted these brands. But Martin's Potato Rolls...
MARTIE: Oh yes! We're just now getting them down here. I love them!
ADAM: Game changer. Game changer for burgers.
MARTIE: You're listening to Homemade. Stay tuned as we'll talk more with Adam Richman about soup, hot sauce, and his culinary travels. We'll be right back after the break.
I'm Martie Duncan and my guest today is Adam Richman.
I noticed that you did a poll recently on your Instagram about soup!
MARTIE: OK, I want to talk about that. I'm a soup addict, man. I love it.
ADAM: Ah, OK.
MARTIE: Like even in the summer in the South, I still if there's soup or gumbo or one of those things on the menu? I'm probably going to have it.
MARTIE: There's a place here that just makes the most creamy, mouthwatering perfect soups. A place called Chez Fon Fon that's also owned by Frank Stitt, but they just got it down to a science.
ADAM: That's awesome.
MARTIE: Anyway, I have missed those during the pandemic. So, world's best soup. What did you find out?
ADAM: Oh, my gosh. Well, I mean, obviously, I know the whole Campbell's story from "The Food That Built America," but I'm biased. I've been trying to get my mom to sell her soups for the better part of two decades. That's her specialty.
MARTIE: Oh, yeah?
ADAM: Yeah. And it was a Jewish mom's chicken soup. Her chicken soup is great. But my dad, may he rest in peace, said, "I fell in love with your mother for her beauty, her wit, her intelligence, and her charm, but I married her for her steak au poivre and her split pea soup."
MARTIE: I love it. I love it.
ADAM: There was a place in New Haven, Connecticut, called Bentara that did this soup, I think it was an Indonesian soup, called istimewa. And it had like a peanut, spicy peanut base to it. That was remarkable. I love the Akamaru Modern from Ippudo Ramen, here in New York. I like...
MARTIE: Say that again.
ADAM: Akamaru Modern from Ippudo in New York.
MARTIE: What the heck is that?
ADAM: Ippudo is a ramen place on Fourth Avenue and 11th Street.
ADAM: And it came from Japan. There's also really good Nakamura ramen and Goma Tei in Hawaii. Goma Tei does a sesame-backed ramen broth. Like, when I order a green curry from this particular Thai place in my neighborhood, I get extra green curry broth. And it's just like good for what ails you. And I love the fact that every culture has some variant of...
MARTIE: Mama's chicken soup.
ADAM: Of soup in general. I mean, Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa does an onion soup that you just get...
MARTIE: Oh, that's the — I've had that one.
ADAM: It's so wonderful. Fort Point Pier in Boston. Obviously, you've got great chowder. Legal Seafoods got great chowder. I had wonderful chowder in San Francisco, Cioppino's.
MARTIE: Cioppino's. Yeah, me, too.
ADAM: So, so good. And I think that that's the beautiful thing, too, that as you travel abroad, you try caldo verde in Lisbon, and you try gumbo. Like when I lived in New Orleans, I'd go to a place right in the bank of Lake Pontchartrain called R & O's Seafood. And then I get shrimp and oyster po boy dressed, and then I'd get a thing of gumbo, and I have to have the whole bottle of Crystal just standing right on standby.
MARTIE: Crystal is a hot sauce, y'all. And it's a New Orleans hot sauce and it's popular.
MARTIE: People swear by it or would die for it.
ADAM: I got to make like a Crystal slick on the top of the soup and eat my way through it.
MARTIE: Now, you said you're going to get your po boy dressed, so you might want to tell everybody what that means, too. You got to have it completely...
MARTIE: All the way.
ADAM: So dressed means, like, with all the fixins.
ADAM: So generally speaking, it's lettuce, tomato, pickles, and then the condiments can vary. Domilise's, which was Tony Bourdain's favorite place uptown, they use spicier sauces and ketchups than my buddy Justin Kennedy down at Parkway Bakery on Haig.
MARTIE: I love Parkway Bakery.
ADAM: So good. So, so good.
MARTIE: Yeah, that one's Alton Brown's favorite, I think.
ADAM: Is it?
MARTIE: Everybody got their own favorite.
ADAM: Yeah, well, I love it. I think that there's just so, you know, Andrew Zimmern and sent me to Mahony's in the Garden District once. I went to Russell Shortstop out in Metairie. I think that's sort of a beautiful thing, too. The best thing about any given po boy is there's a bread that's in New Orleans called Leidenheimer's.
ADAM: And it can really only exist there because of the sea level and the dewpoint. And to quote Justin, "potato chip crust, cotton candy inside," and it can get stale like this. I mean, it's got so many big air bubbles. But that's what it allows it to catch, all the juice and the the magic of it.
MARTIE: Yeah. That that's your napkin. That bread, basically.
ADAM: Amen to that.
MARTIE: So, your favorite, outside of, let's say, a home cook, not a restaurant thing, home-cooked soup. You said you want your mama to produce those. So what would be in her soup line, besides the split pea?
ADAM: Ooh. OK.
MARTIE: Let's pick three things that she would debut in her soup line.
ADAM: Her cabbage soup.
MARTIE: Oh, I love cabbage soup.
ADAM: It's like got a sour, sweet element again. I'm part, I'm half Polish, so it's a very — cabbage is sort of like...
ADAM: The cultural bird, I suppose.
ADAM: I would say that. And then her chicken soup, I mean, she's a Jewish mom. So there's a special kind of "Fantasia," "Sorcerer's Apprentice" alchemy that happens there.
And though the split pea is good, she does the cold soup she used to make for my father, another sort of Polish farm recipe type of thing. It's made with buttermilk. And it has cucumber, radish, and green onion, and it's a cold soup. And I remember after I had my tonsils out, that was, and I could slowly begin eating harder things, she made that for me so I could start getting some nutrients, but it was still soothing.
MARTIE: Isn't it funny how you just flip right back to those memories, the things that you know, really meant something?
MARTIE: You know, Adam, as you mentioned earlier, this last year has been such a tough time for everybody, especially for those in our restaurant industry. When we finally do open up again, what are you looking forward to? Like, for me, I miss brunch. Like, I miss going to brunch with friends on Saturday or Sunday. And it's not just the food because I can make that at home if I want to. But I miss that togetherness. What are you most looking forward to?
ADAM: You know, it sounds so, like, overly canned of a response, but having the lion's share of my friends in the industry on some level or another. I just like to see their timelines full of, like, mundane stuff. "This is my kid dressed for school. This is the puppy rolling around on the couch." And not them trying to exist, survive, take care of their staff. And I think that because, right now, so much of anyone in the industry's energy is devoted to surviving and supporting those who work with and for them, I guess I miss that.
Food wise? There's something analogous to your brunch, but those meals that kind of almost go on forever. Like, you go out with some friends or a friend and it starts as a snack and then it becomes a meal and then you order something and you get another bottle of wine and those wonderful odysseys. And time goes by and the waiter is almost part of your group in some respects. But those wonderful evenings, and, and I think the reemergence of the food festival, the food events.
MARTIE: Oh, me too.
ADAM: The food fair. You know, even, I was just telling people today, while people make so much of the big, bougie food festivals, there's one I highly recommend you come back to New York called the Queens International Night Market. And it's every culture, everything represented.
MARTIE: I'm going with you. I'm going to go with you.
ADAM: You say when. It's right behind the Science Museum. I love it.
MARTIE: I'm going with you.
ADAM: Yes, m'am.
MARTIE: And you're going to teach me everything. Because I'm half New Yorker, so I need to know things I have missed out on all this time.
ADAM: Absolutely. My pleasure.
MARTIE: I miss the food festivals because I miss the people. I love cooking at home on my camera. And I've done quite a lot of that during the pandemic and I'm blessed for it. But I miss my people, like seeing the people!
ADAM: I miss traveling for food, as well. Getting off the plane, luggage still in the car, going to R & O for gumbo and a po boy. Going to Austin and knowing, as God as my witness, I'm going to Driftwood. I'm going to the Salt Lick.
MARTIE: Yeah, I'm going to the Salt Lick, for sure.
ADAM: And I love that. That's the thing that people forget. Like, the word terroir always gets thrown around with wine and a very bougie fashion, but it ultimately means "taste a place."
And the idea that it is exclusionary and only for something as effete as wine... To me, the ferry terminal building is part of the terroir of S. F.
ADAM: Like, the great Chinatown, Tú Lan, and the Little Saigon sandwiches and Ike's, the original Ike's sandwich in the Castro. And when I was in Philadelphia, I just went and I took my film crew with me there, Reading Terminal Market, where I had voted DiNic's roast pork "Best Sandwich" in America. And I was lucky to know that they had been eating off of that for some time, which made me happy. But he was saying it's been very hard on the other side of that for these other businesses.
So to be fair, whether it's West Side market in Cleveland, Smorgasburg here, DeKalb food hall, these places where you can gather and eat and, especially in places like Chicago, New York, the Midwest, the Great Lakes, where cold weather is devastating places with or without outdoor seating. And I just really hope that, you know, as a nation, we band together, we follow the science, get vaccinated, masks, wash hands, and find a way to the other side of it. Because the truth is, the only way back to each other is through each other. And like, we're going to need each other to do that.
MARTIE: You know, though — but I think food can do that. You know, the one thing I always laugh about is like, you can almost get anybody, and I don't care who it is, you can almost get anybody to talk to you about food.
MARTIE: I don't care if they hate you or they have a completely different concept of what the world needs to be than you do, but you can find common ground on food. When I did my last cookbook called "Alabama Cravings," I have a section in there called "Famous Folks Crave," and it's famous Alabama folks like that I thought I would never get to talk to you, to be candid. You know? Why would they talk to me? But I found out that if you ask them about their mama's cooking or their favorite local food, they will talk to you. I mean, all of 'em will.
ADAM: You can't talk about Alabama food and not think about Mobile in the Gulf.
ADAM: And that's the first Mardi Gras, y'all.
MARTIE: That's right!
ADAM: And people will forget. And we've been to Wintzell's Oyster House for my shows. But people even think that the cheeseburger in paradise that Jimmy saying about is in Mobile. And you know, that there is this tremendous seafood tradition, this tremendous agrarian tradition, things like...
So the funny thing is this — especially, when you think about, you know, whether it's Savannah or Charleston or parts of Alabama and the sort of, you know, the Middle Passage and African culture coming here through the slave trade — is that when I was in South Africa, I tried a kind of relish there in the Gugulethu township called chakalaka. Chakalaka is their relish. And chakalaka, I kid you not, is chopped up chow chow. And that's the thing. It is owes more to chow chow than any chutney or any relish. And that's the thing that I also love. Because I admit, I was a Jew in Montgomery, Alabama. And you know what I mean? And I was like, oh, boy, I am...
ADAM: You know, I went shopping for Passover, and I was like having a little bit of a hard time. But then, you realize that there is a Jewish community there, and that it isn't all barbeque and it isn't all meat and three. And there are beautiful, subtle nuances, and there are very different traditions eastern, western, northern, southern, central Alabama flavors. And by the way, I have, you know, there is a barbeque place whose name escapes me right now, in Mobile, and it's one of the smartest damn marketing things ever. He found out that the road in front of his barbeque place got a lot of traffic. And what he did was, he took a barrel, made it look like a smoker, takes wood, and soaks it in his barbeque sauce. Then he lights it, and he has a fan that blows the smell over the road, so when people are caught in traffic, they go, "Hell, I'll pick up some ribs." They go in.
MARTIE: There's a guy in a little town, you know, Fairhope is not far from Mobile...
ADAM: I love Fairhope!
MARTIE: Me too. I'm going today! I'm leaving after we finish. I'm headed down there. But there's a guy down there, got a little barbeque shack, and he does the same thing. He's got a like a crappy gas grill that he puts right by the road and he keeps it full of — he puts wet wood on it. He's not cooking any food. He puts soaking wet wood on it and lets it all the smoke come out into the road so people will pull in. I think that's brilliant.
MARTIE: Smart. Smart, smart. Listen, I have just so enjoyed this.
ADAM: Thank you.
MARTIE: And I could talk to you forever. Like, forever. So, y'all don't miss "Modern Marvels," Adam's new show on History Channel and another one that, the documentary that's just so well done, "The Food That Built America." Y'all don't miss either one of those. So let's see, "Modern Marvels" is going to premiere February 21 on the History Channel.
MARTIE: And then it's the behind the scenes look at your favorite food. So, just to put that in a nutshell, that's sort of like every brand that you kind of take for granted that you see in the grocery store, he shows you the behind the scenes look of how it's made and then talks to you through where it came from.
ADAM: Yeah, not just the brands, the foods. Ice creams, cookies, from fortune cookies to chocolate chip cookies.
MARTIE: I loved the one on the fortune cookies that was so interesting and that they still make those things by hand was even more fascinating.
MARTIE: And then "The Food That Built America" on History Channel, so y'all tune in for that one, too. And again, the pizza one that I saw a little clip of was fascinating. I can't wait to dig in and watch all these, Adam.
ADAM: Thank you so much. Yeah, I'm honored. Because I also am a fan of the network. So the fact that History Channel has faith in me to bring not one or two of these, but also there's just so many people behind the scenes doing so much hard work that we never see to bring us the most everyday snacks that we take for granted, from our potato chips to our cheese to...
MARTIE: Ice cream.
ADAM: To our ice cream. And so many. I mean, the guy whose only job for a whole shift may be stacking the containers that your ice cream gets filled into. Those little things, those little jobs that unsung heroes, you know, never really get there their chance to shine. And I hope that now, if you've ever been there, if you've ever been sort of a cog in a larger machine, that you'll see the recognition and you'll see how the traditions of yesterday are updated with the modern wizardry and mechanics of today, but still with really awesome people, really working hard.
MARTIE: And a lot of times the original family members are still there, even if the company may have been sold or whatever, you usually will say, a grandson, a granddaughter or somebody from the family still involved in those businesses?
ADAM: Yes, ma'am. For the chocolate episode, by the way, y'all, we go to the oldest continuously operating chocolatier, period. And this place opened its doors the same year that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
MARTIE: Where's that?
ADAM: In Philadelphia. Shane Confectionery opened its doors in 1863. And we actually make hard toy candy, which you have to see to believe. It's gorgeous. Really it takes a lot for me to describe a candy as gorgeous, but again, made with copper kettles that were 250 years old.
ADAM: The taffy hook is, you know, from the last century. So, again, it's just like, we talk about buying American, we talk about being culturally inclusive. And very often it's something forced. And the dope thing with food is that you never have to force it. These are the real stories that are told by real people who live it and have lived it for generations. And these are the businesses that keep whole cities employed for generations.
MARTIE: For generations.
ADAM: So special.
MARTIE: Adam, thank you for bringing it to us. I can't wait. I think it's going to be so much fun. Y'all be sure and tune in. Follow Adam on Instagram. Your Instagram is...
MARTIE: And then you're on Tik Tok.
ADAM: Just @AdamRichman across everything, with the exception, of course, of Snapchat, where it's OGAdamRichman.
MARTIE: The original gangster. OK, thank you Adam. I have loved every second of it.
ADAM: Back at you.
MARTIE: I'm so excited to watch every episode of Adam's two new shows, and to learn more these iconic foods in America. And definitely keep up with Adam on social media. He's always trying new stuff, and he's a big supporter of local mom-and-pop restaurants, the ones that need our support these days the most.
Coming up on the next episode of Homemade, we'll celebrate grandma's home cooking with an episode dedicated to cooking with our grandmothers.
It's gonna be so much fun! I don't want you to miss it. So, please, subscribe to the podcast right now. And we'd love your feedback. If you could, rate this podcast and leave us a review. I'd really appreciate it.
And don't forget, you can find thousands of recipes, meal ideas, and cooking how-tos from the world's largest community of cooks at Allrecipes.com.
This podcast was recorded in Birmingham, edited in Atlanta, and can be found wherever you get your podcasts.
Homemade is produced by Allrecipes with Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team: Rachael King, Matt Sav, Danielle Roth, Jim Hanke, Maya Kroth, and Erica Huang. I'm Martie Duncan, and this is Homemade.