Kick Off Michael Pollan’s Booksigning With a Locally Sourced Back Alley BBQ

For the past 25 years, author Michael Pollan has lectured worldwide on food, agriculture, and the environment.

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Best-selling author Michael Pollan is coming to Crosstown Arts Tuesday to read and sign his most recent book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.

But before the program starts at 7 p.m., Chef Miles McMath is throwing a party with a locally sourced menu that sounds scrumptious and fun. Dubbed Back Alley BBQ, the menu features local beer, a creative spin on barbecue food, and plenty of vegan and vegetarian dishes.

“I’m not a vegetarian, but I only eat meat that I have sourced personally or raised, so I eat a lot of vegetarian meals,” said McMath, director of culinary operations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “I love to cook that way.”

Side dishes for the party include grilled kale and pickled shiitakes with black barley and sweet chile vinaigrette, new crop potato salad with duck eggs and chive mayo, cornbread panzanella with spring vegetables and purple hull pea vinaigrette, and Leonard’s sweet mustard slaw, a nod to McMath’s much-loved slaw from Leonard’s Pit Barbecue, a longtime favorite in Memphis. For dessert, look for fried peach pies and Cracker Jack ice cream cones made with popcorn and pecan brittle.

Shoulders from Mule Foot heritage hogs, raised on McMath’s farm and dressed up with smoky persimmon barbecue sauce, will anchor the menu along with Mississippi Reubens made with smoke venison sausage and barbecue tofu “baloney” with a Memphis-style glaze. Other vegan dishes include a pickle bar, hot water cornbread, and focaccia made with Chef Rick Farmer’s 14-year-old sour dough starter. (Impressive, don’t you think?)

Proceeds from the party and a portion of Pollan’s book sales will benefit Bring It Food Hub, a recently formed distributor in Memphis for small local farmers and producers. Admission to the Pollan event is free, but the booksigning requires a line ticket purchased in advance at the Booksellers at Laurelwood in East Memphis. Tickets to the barbecue party are $20 and can be purchased here.

Back Alley BBQ behind Crosstown Arts, 430 N. Cleveland St., May 20, 5 to 7 p.m.

Michael Pollan reading and booksigning, Crosstown Arts, May 20, 7 p.m.

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