The approach of Big Ears, in addition to a fantastic slate of music, gives us pause to appreciate things homegrown. It also reminds us of how nice it is to be in Knoxville, and how lucky we are to have witnessed and participated in all the work that has gone into making our city a place where something as cool as Big Ears can find a home. We’re looking forward to the festival and all the good things that come with it. So we’re celebrating in Tomato Head fashion with lots of southern themed specials and, of course, desserts.
In the spirit of East Tennessee and its sense of humor, we’re commemorating one of our most famous soft drinks, Mountain Dew. As with any notable product, the actual origins of the recipe for this soda are subject to some disputation, but it is undisputed that the product was first trade marked by Barney and Ally Hartman who ran a bottling plant in Knoxville. And that’s good enough for our purposes, especially seeing as we’re not here to pick a fight- we’re just baking a cake.
Mountain Dew cake is a recipe that comes from any number of possible sources, but we’ll be using Paula Deen’s recipe which combines a lemon cake base, supplemented by lemon pudding and a can of good ole Mountain Dew. It’s a very limited offering that we’re baking up just for the festival, so if you want to “do the Dew” by living out a few of Mountain Dew’s slogans and “tickle your innards” or “get that barefoot feelin’” you’ll want to stop in early this weekend before the Dew evaporates.
We’re also putting up our Pecan Pie – it’s the kind of dessert that gives us the warm fuzzies and makes us feel at home whenever we see it, let alone eat a piece. Part of that comes from the fact that we like to claim the pecan as a particularly Southern nut- and we’re mighty fond of Southern nuts, particularly if they’re our relations. But if the truth be told, pecans belong to a large swath of the United States – the name itself is an Algonquin word that, according to the vast wisdom of the web, means something like, “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”
Certainly Pecan Pie remains a decidedly Southern dessert whose nutty, rich, buttery and gooey excellence occupies a place of honor in the pantheon of our regional cuisine and the images upon which fond recollections of an unspoiled youth in the country are founded. It’s also a young-ish recipe, but nobody’s really certain when the pie came to be; it didn’t show up in cookbooks until the 20th century.
Still, it’s a potent symbol of Southern hospitality and tradition and the value we place on gathering together to break bread. Of course, a real Tennessee table knows no strangers – so whether you’re visiting to hear a little music with Big Ears, or if you’re one of the neighbors that we see all the time, we’ll be tickled pink to see you! Come one in and sit a spell.