Wednesday's all about celebrating the grand U.S. of A. for the Fourth of July. So what about the 29th of June? That Friday, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will hold a screening of the documentary Above the Line: Saving Willie Mae's Scotch House as part of its "Soul Food" exhibition. And while this is certainly a regional affair, the film — which details the efforts to rebuild 91-year-old Willie Mae Seaton's Hurricane Katrina-devastated restaurant — gives witness to traits so admired of people in this great land of ours: the can-do attitude, pride, ingenuity, steadfastness, and loyalty.
For decades, Seaton drew praise for her fried chicken, which she cooked up in a deep fryer in a shotgun house, half of which served as the restaurant and the other half as her home. The recipe for her chicken she kept secret; that it was damn good was widely known, so much so that she was honored with a medal from the James Beard Foundation only months before the restaurant was seriously damaged in the wake of Katrina. For a year-and-a-half after the storm, volunteers from the Southern Foodways Alliance led by Oxford, Mississippi, restaurateur John Currence worked weekends to restore the Scotch House. Last May, the Scotch House was once again open for business.
SFA resident filmmaker Joe York and SFA director and noted food writer John T. Edge will be at the Brooks to present Above the Line. And if the film's not enough to have you God-blessing-America, after the screening, there will be food from Gus's Fried Chicken and other restaurants.
"Above the Line," Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Friday, June 29th, 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers.