Cooking Up a Storm: Art Exhibit Meets Food Truck, Rallying Rawlings Style after Hurricane Irma


The Historic Thomas Center in Gainesville opens its “Cross Creek Rising” exhibit Friday, Sept.29 in conjunction with Artwalk. Three food trucks will rally with menus inspired by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ Cross Creek Cookery.

“Cross Creek is Rising” and the Margaret Kinnan Rawlings Historic Site has reopened. Though I’d love to see the art show, “Cross Creek Rising: The Consciousness of Land & Water,” I’m more excited about what the chefs are cooking for the Food Truck Rally portion of the event. They’re making Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings-inspired dishes. After studying Cross Creek Cookery, I know what I’d be cooking. I’ve watched plenty of food truck shows on television and know that anything deep fried sells. And, of course, I’ve eaten at a few food trucks, too.

Hurricane Irma didn’t dampen the spirits of the Cross Creek Rising artists when the storm barreled through Central Florida.  John Moran delivered his art to the Historic Thomas Center, first by boat through the flooded streets of Gainesville, then by bicycle. The juried exhibit features photography, drawings, paintings and sculpture created to celebrate the role of North Central Florida as a muse. In other words, the artists are being inspired by their environment just as Rawlings was with her writing. And in Moran’s case, getting the work to the show meant immersing himself in this environment.

To complement the art exhibit, the food trucks from Mayflower Cellars, Vanarchy Sandwiches and Fables Catering will be dishing out creations, part of Gainesville’s Artwalk, Friday, Sept. 29. This is one of the many cultural events scheduled commemorating the 75th anniversary of both Cross Creek and Cross Creek Cookery.

If I were bringing a food truck to the rally, I’d be cooking croquettes. I mean, Marjorie was passionate about croquettes. She includes nine – yes, nine — croquette recipes in Cross Creek Cookery.  She believes “there is little excuse for wearing out the patience of a family by serving left-over meat plain cold sliced, day after day, when croquettes are so simple to make, and so tasty.” Using Marjorie’s recipes, my food truck (appropriately named Marjorie’s Cross Creek Croquettes) will fry up and serve all nine types from her cookbook. And some are truly surprising. She describes a parsnip croquette as the ugly duckling transformed to a swan.

Marjorie’s Deep Fried Cross Creek Croquettes

∼ 3 for $8 ∼

Vegetable Croquettes: Potato, Sweet Potato, Parsnip

Dessert Croquette: Rice with tart Wild Plum Jelly

Meat Croquettes: Chicken, Lamb, Ham or Turkey (save the beef for hash)

Specialty of the House: Egg Croquette

Egg Croquette

The Mother’s Egg Croquettes that I made are “delicate and of pristine simplicity,”  just as Marjorie promised. I did feel like I was dining at a country club luncheon in 1954 when I bit into one. The subtle flavor, however, is worthy of any fine restaurant anytime.

I’m quite taken, in fact, with her Mother’s Egg Croquettes.  The recipe was once a closely guarded secret. That is, I guess, until her friend’s cook stole it, trying to outdo the Louisville Country Club. Marjorie herself provided the recipe for her husband’s chef at Castle Warden Hotel. Neither place made it quite right, but I’m giving it a try.

When sharing the egg croquette recipe for the first time in print, Marjorie writes “Some of the most delicate dishes in the world are of pristine simplicity, but with a subtle flavor past the most elaborate French concoctions.” And mine turned out as delicious as that sentence sounds.

If you’re in the Gainesville area, Friday night around 7, stop by the Food Truck Rally at the Historic Thomas Center, enjoy a MKR-inspired dish and check out the art selected for “Cross Creek Rising: The Consciousness of Land & Water.”


About thegumbodiaries

On the search for the perfect gumbo!
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