2019
July
08
Monday
Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

Welcome to your Daily. Today we look at the EU’s reach for global sway, why populism may wane, black chefs reclaiming their culinary heritage, keeping pillow talk nonpartisan, and a famous library’s centennial rose.

First, two quick profiles in values-clad professionalism. 

Amid a new round of temblors near the second-largest U.S. city stands the stabilizing force that is the “earthquake lady.”

Lucy Jones, an unshakable CalTech seismologist, has long been a rock star among Angelenos, who hang on her every word about “foreshocks” and “preshocks” and openly appreciate her calm explanations of which fault lines connect to which. A rolling motion? That means the event is “pretty far away.” 

The catchphrases that have emerged in L.A. – “I trust Lucy,” “Lucy is my co-pilot” – say a lot about how greatly Dr. Jones exceeds the expectations of a subject-matter authority. She deploys smarts against fear. 

And the integrity that makes her the dominant analyst isn’t limited to cold physics. Speaking about how Southern Californians might best respond to a large-scale quake, she counsels empathy: “The most important thing you can do,” she said at a press conference, “is help yourself and help your neighbor.” Connected communities recover fastest.

Empathy and connection have also shown up lately at sea. On Saturday, a second migrant-rescue ship forced its way into the Italian port of Lampedusa, putting ashore 40 imperiled people despite a ban on doing so. (A third ship was redirected to Malta.)

The docking may have been inspired by a similar act of mercy in late June by German ship captain Carola Rackete, arrested after landing her 40 African migrants, bumping a police boat in the process.

Captain Rackete weighed lifesaving against legality and declared the migrants’ lives “more important than any political game.” She was ordered released July 2 by an Italian judge. His ruling: She had been fulfilling “her duty to protect life.”

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1. EU as world power: Brussels has the tools, but does it have the will?

With the U.S. on an “America First” path, Europe is realizing that it needs to compete globally in a more independent way. But does it have the tools – and the mindset – to make that change?

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As old friends such as the United States put their interests first and new rivals such as China prowl the world stage with increasing self-confidence, can Europe stand up to such unfamiliar challenges and maintain its role as a global power? A new report says yes – if the European Union moves quickly.

The bloc “has the market power, defense spending, and diplomatic heft to end [its] vulnerability,” argues the European Council on Foreign Relations, a Berlin-based think tank. The EU is the world’s largest trading bloc, its most generous donor of development aid, the driving force behind climate action, and the benchmark for international regulatory standards.

But “it is underperforming compared to its potential,” argues Jeremy Shapiro, co-editor of the ECFR report. “Its model of doing things is eroding in the face of greater geopolitical competition and it won’t work in future.” In the broader field of international relations, “states will no longer be able to protect their national sovereignty unless they pool more of it,” Mr. Shapiro argues. “What they did with trade policy in the 1960s, they now need to do with geopolitics.”

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EU as world power: Brussels has the tools, but does it have the will?

When Iran announced Sunday it would shortly boost uranium enrichment levels, violating the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal and perhaps heralding its demise, Tehran explained that European signatories to the agreement had not kept their side of the bargain: They had failed to bring the economic benefits they had pledged.

That was true. Though Europe had stuck by the nuclear deal even when Washington withdrew, European companies pulled their investments out of Iran. Under the threat of U.S. secondary sanctions, they had to choose between doing business in Iran or doing business in America. There was nothing Europe could do about it.

As old friends such as the United States put their interests first and new rivals such as China prowl the world stage with increasing self-confidence, can Europe stand up to such unfamiliar challenges and maintain its role as a global power?

A new report says yes – if the European Union moves quickly. The bloc “has the market power, defense spending, and diplomatic heft to end [its] vulnerability,” argues the European Council on Foreign Relations, a Berlin-based think tank. “But unless it acts soon, Europe may become not a player in the new world order but the chessboard on which great powers compete for power and glory.”

In a number of fields, the EU is a top-flight global power. It is the world’s largest trading bloc, its most generous donor of development aid, the driving force behind climate action, and the benchmark for international regulatory standards.

“People underestimate Europe’s global power,” says Andrew Moravcsik, head of the EU Program at Princeton University. “It is an essential power in many ways.”

But “it is underperforming compared to its potential,” argues Jeremy Shapiro, co-editor of the ECFR report. “Its model of doing things is eroding in the face of greater geopolitical competition and it won’t work in future.”

Pooled decision-making

A key weakness, says the report, is that Europe does not use its areas of strength or its economic clout to push its geopolitical goals in the way that other powers do.

The U.S., for example, has exploited the dollar’s dominance of the international financial system to threaten anyone doing business in Iran with exclusion from U.S. banking institutions. China, pushing its Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure, is dangling billions of dollars of investment funds to expand its influence across Asia and into Europe.

The European Commission recently branded Beijing “an economic competitor … and a systemic rival” in the political realm.

The EU is not set up to behave like that, says Mr. Shapiro, because its designers deliberately left geopolitical and diplomatic affairs in the hands of member governments while centralizing economic decision-making in Brussels. That has led to a fragmentation of decision-making authority which complicates Europeans’ efforts to punch their full weight, he says.

Dispersed decision-making is not always a drawback, though, says Professor Moravcsik. In some cases, continental-level and national-level policies can reinforce each other, as has happened with a migration policy comprising “bribery and intimidation,” as he puts it.

The number of migrants entering Europe has fallen nearly eightfold since 2015, the peak migration year. “That is a tremendous success,” says Professor Moravcsik, resulting from a mixture of EU initiatives – such as a 2016 deal to pay Turkey €6 billion ($6.7 billion) to secure its border and stop migrants traveling north illegally – and national policies such as Italy’s decision to negotiate with Libyan militias to better secure the country’s southern border, or Hungary’s construction of a border wall.

But in the broader field of international relations, “states will no longer be able to protect their national sovereignty unless they pool more of it,” Mr. Shapiro argues. “What they did with trade policy in the 1960s, they now need to do with geopolitics.”

With nationalist governments in power in several European capitals, “that is a very difficult political message to sell,” Mr. Shapiro admits. “But the choice is between cooperation in Brussels or informal subservience to some combination of Beijing, Moscow, and Washington.”

Developing and using leverage

“The EU needs to learn to think like a geopolitical power,” the report argues. “The EU and its member states should create either a mindset or a policy mechanism devoted to protecting their overall ability to act independently of other great powers.”

That is already happening, says Nathalie Tocci, head of the Italian International Affairs Institute and adviser to Federica Mogherini, the outgoing EU foreign policy czar. Long gone, Dr. Tocci points out, is the idea of “Europe diffusing goodness to the rest of the world through its soft power tools.”

The EU is toughening up even in the most sensitive area – security and defense – where member states have long been divided over the value and purpose of a strong military force. At the end of 2017, after long debate, the EU set up a Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework to coordinate national governments’ military spending, investment, and action. It’s not a European army, but it could be a first step.

The EU is also doubling down on its support for the multilateral approach to international governance in the teeth of U.S. President Donald Trump’s disdain for such a system. Brussels has signed a slew of free trade agreements over the past five years with Japan, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, and, last week, with Mercosur, the South American trade bloc.

The EU has also played a leading role in defending pillars of the international rules-based order that have come under attack from Washington, such as the World Trade Organization, and saved the U.N.’s Palestinian aid agency from bankruptcy when the U.S. pulled out of it.

Even if Europe’s common currency, the euro, were ever in as strong a position as the U.S. dollar, Brussels could never use its economic and financial power in such a coercive manner as the U.S. government uses its currency; there would never be wide enough political support. But the EU is taking small steps in the direction of the ECFR’s recommendation that the bloc should leverage its economic clout for political goals.

Most recently, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that France would not ratify the trade deal that the EU just signed with Mercosur unless Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro respected environmental norms. The threat prompted the Brazilian leader to abandon his campaign pledge to follow Mr. Trump out of the Paris accord on climate change.

Europe has also begun to stiffen its attitude to foreign investment, with an unspoken but manifest intention to keep a closer eye on – and possibly limit – Chinese investment. Last April, the EU created a network allowing member states to exchange information and raise concerns about foreign investments, but there is still no Europe-wide mechanism that could block investments seen as a threat to national, or continental, security.

Europe and sanctions

At the same time, in a bid to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive, European nations have set up Instex, a new transaction channel designed to sidestep U.S. sanctions and allow European nations to continue trading with Tehran through non-monetary means. The facility does not cover oil sales, which are essential to Iran, and has yet to come into operation, “but it can be expanded and it shows the desire for this sort of thing” to boost European autonomy, says Mr. Shapiro.

Instex has broader significance for Dr. Tocci, given the prospects of more European policy clashes with the United States. “What if tomorrow the U.S. imposed sanctions on China and made them extraterritorial,” like the current U.S. secondary sanctions punishing any firm anywhere for doing business in Tehran, she asks. “What would our [European] companies choose to do?”

Such a scenario is not so fantastical, says Dr. Tocci. “For 70 years the contract was that Europe didn’t really have autonomy, but followed U.S. foreign ventures, and in return Washington provided for European security,” she says. “Now we are living through a historical, structural moment that goes beyond Trump in which the U.S. may no longer be willing or able to provide security because it is focused on its main challenge, China.”

That means that “we are out there on our own,” she continues. “Change is happening in Europe” to make the continent more autonomous and able to act independently, “but not as fast as we need, given the pace of change elsewhere in the world.

“We [Europeans] need the political courage not just to speak out about what we are for, but to act on it,” Dr. Tocci says. “We’ve got to have the guts to grow up.”

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Patterns

Tracing global connections

2. Future of Europe’s populist wave hangs on two key questions

Our London-based foreign affairs columnist tackles a question prompted by events in Greece: When it comes to populist leaders, what motivates voters more: specific promises, or the expectation that they’ll shake up the political system?

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Is the tide turning against the nationalism and populism surging in key Western democracies?

The resounding victory in Greece Sunday of the conservative New Democracy, the antithesis of a tub-thumping party, suggests a cautious maybe. But the jury is out in two far-larger European economic powers: Italy and Britain.

Two questions will determine if the populist insurgency is here to stay: whether populist movements can deliver on promises, and whether that actually matters to voters.

In Greece, it did. The defeated, populist Syriza party was unable to free Greece from EU demands and end cutbacks aimed at rescuing its debt-ridden economy. In Italy, the situation is murkier. The ruling euroskeptic coalition has made little headway on ambitious economic promises. But the EU has held off imposing penalties, perhaps out of fear of the political consequences.

The most definitive answer to the future of populist nationalism could come from Britain. Boris Johnson, the likely next prime minister, has vowed a Brexit by Oct. 31, deal or no deal. His promise is a stronger, richer Britain. Yet even the most optimistic forecasts point to a serious economic hit from a no-deal Brexit.

Will it matter?

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Future of Europe’s populist wave hangs on two key questions

A thumping electoral turnaround in Greece – where the seeds of democratic government were first sown some 2,500 years ago – may have signaled a retreat from the mix of nationalism and populism that has been surging in key Western democracies.

But the operative word is “may.” The real significance of Sunday’s landslide defeat for the Syriza party, which rode to power promising to face down European Union fiscal conditions for rescuing Greece’s debt-ridden economy, is to highlight two questions that will determine if the wave of populist insurgency is here to stay.

The first is whether populist political movements, once in government, can deliver on their promises. The second – more intriguing, and important – is whether that will actually matter to voters, who are often motivated by a more fundamental sense that the old political system hasn’t worked for them and needs to be shaken up.

In Greece, delivering did matter. Syriza, having pledged to free the country from EU demands and end austerity cutbacks, ran into a hard reality: the risk of economic collapse. It agreed to a further EU bailout and kept austerity in place. While this helped get the economy back on its feet, voters felt betrayed. The result was the election victory of the conservative New Democracy party, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, son of a former prime minister and the very antithesis of a tub-thumping populist.

Now, the focus is likely to shift to a pair of far larger European economic powers in the sway of anti-EU populism: Italy and Britain. And in both, the jury is still out.

For the past year, Italy has been ruled by a coalition of two populist, euroskeptic parties: the right-wing League and the more left-leaning 5-Star. In terms of delivery, not much has been done to make good on their ambitious economic promises. Though Italy’s economy is not as precariously placed as Greece’s was, it does carry a huge public debt: around 130% of its gross domestic product. As a result, it has spent months in a game of chicken with the EU over coalition spending plans that could make the situation worse.

But Italy has more leverage than Greece does with Brussels. Its economy, the EU’s fourth-largest, is around 10 times bigger. And politically, at least part of the populist coalition seems to be thriving. The League, which began as the junior partner, turned the tables in May’s elections for the EU parliament. With its leader, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leading an aggressive campaign against accepting migrants and refugees, it won 34% of the vote, to 5-Star’s 17%. That was a mirror image of last year’s national election.

The EU has now stepped back from a threat to impose financial penalties on Italy for its failure to meet union budget rules – no doubt in part out of concern this might further energize Mr. Salvini’s supporters and tempt him to seek a fresh national election that would leave the League in charge.

But it’s in Britain – the EU’s second-largest economy – where the two key questions around the future of populist nationalism could get the nearest thing to a definitive answer.

After the 2016 referendum that delivered a narrow majority for leaving the EU, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May failed to win parliamentary approval for a compromise that would have seen Britain leave while retaining some of the trade and economic benefits of being a member. She had to resign. Following a vote of party members that is now underway, she is likely to be succeeded by her former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

Determined to neutralize the newly formed Brexit Party, which trounced the Conservatives in the recent European Parliament elections, he has vowed to withdraw from the EU by Oct. 31 come what may, even if that means a “no-deal” Brexit with no new arrangements with Britain’s largest trade partner.

Unless Parliament finds a way to block it, that could happen. Mr. Johnson, as a leading voice in the pro-Brexit referendum campaign, promised Britain would be stronger and ultimately richer on its own. Yet even the most optimistic forecasts point to the country taking a serious economic hit from a no-deal Brexit. In other words: promises undelivered.

Which would lead to that second question: Will it matter to voters?

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A deeper look

3. ‘Setting a place at the table’: The black chefs unearthing history

“Farm to table” is on everyone’s lips today. It was also the founding spirit of a particular (wonderful) strain of cuisine from the American South – and a heritage that’s only now being reclaimed.

Quentin Bacon
Chef Mashama Bailey returned to the South from New York as half-owner of the Grey in Savannah, Georgia, in 2015. Ms. Bailey practices “reclamation cuisine,” connecting modern Southern cuisine with its African roots. Besides appearing on at least one “America’s best” list, the restaurant was featured in the Netflix series “Chef’s Table.”

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Under the gaze of a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr., Mike and Shyretha Sheats are sanding the floors of a farmhouse. They are preparing to transition from a big-city restaurant career in Atlanta to a rural stage for Southern slow cooking.

The Sheats’ project is a pop-up called The Plate Sale. The name is an ode to the Southern tradition of buying a plate of meat and three vegetables from a home cook. It is also a way for Mr. Sheats to tell the stories of African Americans’ contribution to how the United States eats. “It’s not all about selling plates, or selling food. It’s a constant reminder of where I came from and a constant reminder to keep pushing to get where I want to go.”

Mr. Sheats is one of a growing number of black chefs grasping this moment to unearth 400 years of history redolent in dishes like oyster porridge and catfish in shrimp gravy. Southern food, with its farm-to-table ethos, “is the foundation of American cuisine,” says veteran chef Joe Randall, founder of the African American Chefs Hall of Fame in Savannah, Georgia.

“It’s like a history lesson that never was told,” says chef Benjamin Dennis.

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‘Setting a place at the table’: The black chefs unearthing history

Deep in the hills of central Georgia, past a church built by freedmen, lies an overgrown farm with a vulture roosting in the smokehouse.

Sweetgum grows through the grill of a ’70s muscle car. Blackberry brambles hide the chicken coop.

Under the gaze of a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr., Mike and Shyretha Sheats are sanding the floors of the small farmhouse, shoring up the roof and the sills. They are preparing to transition from a big-city restaurant career in Atlanta to a rural stage for Southern slow cooking, from barn-hung hams to collards with the bitterness cooked out of them.

The Plate Sale will be a testament to what is known by family lore as the “home house,” where the men made the sausages and the women adjusted the seasonings.

Mr. Sheats is one of a growing number of black chefs grasping this moment to unearth 400 years of history redolent in dishes like oyster porridge and catfish in shrimp gravy.

From Seattle to Charleston, South Carolina, from Houston to Athens, Georgia, black food entrepreneurs are exploring the deep, but often underappreciated, effects of black cuisine and agricultural prowess on a whitewashed culture. This exploration takes places against a continuing backdrop of national unease over skin color, heritage, and legitimacy.

“There’s this stereotype that black culture is a culture created on the fly, and that it’s not rooted, and I think that’s a very safe belief,” says the chef Michael Twitty, author of “The Cooking Gene.” “That enables people who are outside of our world or community to be ignorant, because they don’t have to learn the history, the tradition, the stories and folklore, or wrestle with the same emotional material that we do.”

Patrik Jonsson/The Christian Science Monitor
Mike Sheats (c.) explain dishes during a Plate Sale pop-up at Muss & Turner’s in Smyrna, Ga. In addition to the pop up, he and his wife, Shyretha, are renovating a farm and planning a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Southern food, with its farm-to-table ethos, “is the foundation of American cuisine,” says veteran chef Joe Randall, founder of the African American Chefs Hall of Fame in Savannah, Georgia. “You can get great gumbo in Seattle because the gumbo trail went from New Orleans to the West Coast.” 

Fried chicken is part of that tradition, sure, but so is Mr. Sheats’ recent dish of aged pork, greens, and sauce africaine. Benjamin “B.J.” Dennis, a progenitor of the Gullah-Geechee food traditions on the southern Sea Islands, makes delicate shrimp and grits that bust stereotypes about grease and lard. Chef Mashama Bailey in Savannah has on her menu “yard bird” and also “thrills,” the small frozen Kool-Aid cups known to generations of black Savannahians.

“For years,” says Mr. Randall, “German chefs, Italian chefs, French, Irish, Swiss chefs, they were never questioned when they talked about their roots. African Americans were the only ones ever asked to deny their heritage in order to legitimize themselves as chefs. In order to get any kind of recognition, we had to cook European. Sometimes it’s been as if they were invisible. But right now, some young folks are being recognized and that’s a very positive thing.”

Up to this point, Mr. Sheats has slung grub on behalf of a pantheon of famous white chefs who have mined the South for inspiration, including Southern food maestro Sean Brock and the avant-garde Ryan Smith.

He says those chefs have given him invaluable experience, knowledge, and support. But the opportunity to take over the farm on Dora Bush Hill Road, stepping out from under their shadow, became the most important moment of his career.

“I realized that now is my time to step up,” says Mr. Sheats, who grew up not far away.

Mr. Sheats’ project – which he shares with Shyretha, its beverage director – is a pop-up called The Plate Sale. The name is an ode to the Southern tradition of buying a “plate,” of say, meat and three vegetables, from a home cook. It is also a way to tell, in his own voice, the stories of African Americans’ unique contribution to how the United States eats. 

Though a self-admitted shy guy, Mr. Sheats is an artist who gets his point across primarily through dishes like the ones he created recently for a pop-up supper at Muss & Turner’s in Smyrna. The menu: cucumber cooler with homemade ginger beer (non-alcoholic), squash tart with ramps and trout roe, Tybee shrimp with basil and cayenne oil. 

“The Plate Sale comes from just ambitions, trying to put out the best food,” says Mr. Sheats. “But it’s not all about selling plates, or selling food. It’s a constant reminder of where I came from and a constant reminder to keep pushing to get where I want to go.”

None of this is how Mr. Sheats pictured his life. Growing up, he says he was a constant at his aunt’s hems during the cooking of Sunday supper. But he went to college to be a “business dude” and dropped out. After a few other stalled plans, another aunt slipped a brochure for the cooking school Le Cordon Bleu into his mail stack. A stint in Charleston under Mr. Brock brought home to him the importance of “real food and real ingredients.” He’s gotten this far, he says, “by doing right by people and not burning any bridges.”

“Mike Sheats and his family are all as important and as foundational to Athens as an idea and Athens as a place, as are the names of the grand white families whose names are branded on the buildings on the university campus,” says Ole Miss historian John T. Edge. “And now by way of what Mike is doing and other food entrepreneurs in Athens are doing, we get to see those two worlds in conversation with each other. That is an important reckoning, and the city is ready for it.”

‘A history lessons that was never told’

To see U.S. history through its foodways is to journey through swamps of sweet honey and acid vinegar, marinated in hard truths.

Until now, much of the story of Southern food has been told by white chefs, which for some has raised questions about cultural appropriation by an industry already rife with sexism and exploitation.

White-owned barbecue shacks came to embody segregation – and the legal fight against it – with the Supreme Court ordering Ollie’s Barbecue in Birmingham, Alabama, to serve black customers in the 1960s. The history of black cooks spans from French-trained black chefs in Colonial America to Leah Chase, the late New Orleans doyenne whose joint Dooky Chase’s hosted prominent black Americans from King to former President Barack Obama.

They also include cooks like Georgia Gilmore, who provided the spaces for activists in Montgomery, Alabama, and Zephyr Wright, who was Lyndon Johnson’s chef. Ms. Wright was a college-educated chef who after being turned away from a gas station bathroom sparked Johnson to lay the groundwork for civil rights legislation: “Is that the country you want?” Johnson would roar after telling the story. “That’s not the country I want.”

Despite the influence of black cooks on the national menu, disparities remain in the restaurant industry. While black Americans are slightly overrepresented in professional kitchens – 16% of restaurant employees are black, while African Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population – only 7% of kitchen managers, including chefs, are black, according to a recent report by the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance.

Food historians say the effort to reclaim American food offers a spotlight on the real problem facing black entrepreneurs: a dearth of resources, capital, and opportunity.

Black Americans are widely recognized as the progenitors of wood-smoked barbecue, yet there are only a handful of black pitmasters at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, Tennessee. Part of that, participants have said, is because fewer black chefs can afford the steep participation costs. 

Nigeria-born Tunde Wey of New Orleans charges white customers more at his pop-ups, to illustrate how white supremacy is rooted in wealth inequality.

“We cook ancestral lineage, and for me a lot of times it’s not only upholding tradition but relearning, reteaching, and rediscovering things – old crops, old grains, and traditional rices,” says Mr. Dennis. “It’s like a history lesson that never was told.”

It’s one of a number of efforts to elevate the history and importance of African American foodways.

On June 19, the James Beard Foundation held a dinner to elevate what black chefs bring to the national supper table. The menu included Delta tamales, grilled red hot links with mustard barbecue sauce, and pickled onions with cowboy candy (candied jalapeños).

Last year, the Los Angeles City Council and embRACE LA sponsored 100 Dinners & Dialogue About Race around the city. Houston’s Indigo restaurant offers a “revised reflection of what it is like eating through the ‘isms’ of America as a copper-colored person.”

Patrik Jonsson/The Christian Science Monitor
Restaurateurs Mike and Shyretha Sheats and their daughter Luna get ready for a day of work on an abandoned farm they are converting to a home and conference space to explore their heritage -- and the role of black cooks on American cuisine in Carlton, Ga.

The Grey restaurant in Savannah won Eater’s Restaurant of the Year in 2017. The next year its chef, Ms. Bailey, won the Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast, the second consecutive black woman to win the title. “Things changed [for my career] when I realized that my history mattered, my story mattered," Ms. Bailey told the event in Chicago on May 7. 

In his book, “The Potlikker Papers,” about the role of food in the emergence of a modern South, Mr. Edge highlights the rise of Ms. Bailey in a restaurant in a converted Greyhound bus station “where her grandmother would not have been allowed to claim a seat.” 

“These stories and these people have long been the bedrock of what we think of as Southern food and culture and yet for the longest time when white Southerners would pay tribute to those cooks they would use their first name, not their last – they would denigrate with faint praise,” says Mr. Edge. “Now what has happened is that a new generation of chefs does not require white voices to amplify their message. That’s progress.” 

‘Setting a place at the table’

Tom Colicchio has a unique view from the past. As a judge of the “Top Chef” franchise on Bravo, Mr. Colicchio notes that the show has in its last few seasons focused more on backstories elevating a diverse cast of chefs. The show has also inadvertently poked tensions around race in the kitchen. Last season, some fans grumbled after a remarkable black chef exploring his West African roots was eliminated by judges in favor of two white female chefs from the South.

“Part of this is that in the last couple of years there has been a lot of talk in our industry and the film industry about letting other voices have their day,” says Mr. Colicchio, chef-owner of Craft in Manhattan’s Gramercy-Flatiron neighborhood. “It’s about not just opening the door but setting a place at the table and letting them shine.”

Mr. Twitty, the author, stages historical dinners in antebellum garb. “When we talk about the American South and race relations, white people need to relate to the black people who have been here for 400 years, who their blood is in,” he says.

“Yes, it’s a provocative subject. But kitchens were where grandmothers were raped and their children became mulatto people. White Southerners and black Southerners are related, not just through sexual abuse, but through generations of mixing,” he continues. “But we’re not on the same page economically or politically with our white Southern cousins. Even when they are liberal and progressive, the chance they have more resources to deal with than we do is highly likely. And when it comes to politics, there are these folks around the corner – your blood relatives – who vote against your interests and then say, ‘May I eat with you?’”

Not far away from the Sheats’ farm lies Athens, the college town that was once home to T.R.R. Cobb, a Confederate officer and lawyer who helped codify white supremacy into law.

Like many U.S. cities, it is in the midst of a restaurant revival. But behind street festivals like the Hot Corner Celebration and Soul Food Festival lies a difficult and deadly history.

In 1964, as Ms. Sheats’ family smoked sausages and hams out in Carlton, a greasy-spoon in Athens named the Open House became a Ku Klux Klan headquarters, from which members orchestrated intimidation and violence to buttress the university town against new civil rights laws – including the murder of a black Army reservist named Lemuel Penn. Called a “hangout for rabid Klansmen” by the FBI, the Open House showed how intertwined food and association became in the epic struggle to ensure the civil rights of black Americans. In his book, Mr. Edge remembers eating at the Open House as a student in the 1980s, noting that he thought the restaurant had been “washed clean of past taints. Like so many whites, I chose to avert my gaze from that ugly history, until it was impossible to look away.”

More recently, in 2015, 105 bodies of black Athenians – likely 19th-century slaves – were found during an expansion of the University of Georgia’s Baldwin Hall. A growing number of universities have publicly apologized for their use of slave and coerced labor. But while university President Jere Morehead last November unveiled an elaborate memorial for the deceased, protesters – including descendants of enslaved Athenians – bristled at the lack of an apology or a debate about reparations.

That episode jarred Mr. Sheats. At moments, he admits, “I wonder if I even want to be part of that community.” It’s even more complicated by the fact that some African Americans question his decision to delve into the past. “To a lot of black people, going back to the farm evokes slavery,” he says.

The Sheats’ planned brick-and-mortar restaurant – to be supplied by the farm – will incorporate the history of their families, overlaid with the unfinished arc of the civil rights movement, all with the feel of a country juke joint.

“People don’t always get what we’re trying to do, but that’s OK, too,” says Ms. Sheats, holding the couple’s toddler daughter. “The food will always be good and the vibe will be hopping.”

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Q&A

4. How to save politically ‘mixed marriages’ in Trump era

This one’s a talker. Learning to respect loved ones for who they are, not trying to remake them in your likeness, is something most people have to learn. As in love, one author told the Monitor, so too in politics.

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For years, Jeanne Safer has received letters from people whose personal relationships have been upended by political differences. She’s heard of engagements being called off, siblings who are no longer on speaking terms, and a pending divorce because the wife wouldn’t let her husband watch Fox News in the basement of their three-story home.

The reason they’ve reached out to Ms. Safer, a psychotherapist, is because she herself is in a politically “mixed marriage.” For the past 39 years, the liberal New Yorker has been married to Richard Brookhiser, a senior editor at National Review. Now she’s parlayed those experiences into a book, “I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics: How to Protect Your Intimate Relationships in a Poisonous Partisan World.” Ms. Safer’s book isn’t a “Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus” tract so much as it is a guide to what true love entails.

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How to save politically ‘mixed marriages’ in Trump era

For years, Jeanne Safer has received letters from people whose personal relationships have been upended by political differences. She’s heard of engagements being called off, siblings who are no longer on speaking terms, and a pending divorce because the wife wouldn’t let her husband watch Fox News in the basement of their three-story home.

The reason they’ve reached out to Ms. Safer, a psychotherapist, is because she herself is in a politically “mixed marriage.” For the past 39 years, the liberal New Yorker has been married to Richard Brookhiser, a senior editor at National Review. Now she’s parlayed those experiences into a new book, “I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics: How to Protect Your Intimate Relationships in a Poisonous Partisan World.” Ms. Safer’s book isn’t a “Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus” tract so much as it is a guide to what true love entails.

The Christian Science Monitor spoke with Ms. Safer by phone about the ideas in her book. (This conversation has been edited and condensed for space.)

Why do people take politics so personally? 

Because you want the people that you love to be like you and to like you. We are compelled to change people’s minds because otherwise we have to accept enormous limitations on the effect that we can have on other people. But if you think about it – this is my great revelation – it’s like trying to make somebody fall in love with you who doesn’t. You can’t do it! You aren’t going to persuade somebody who has a different view of the world, and once you realize this you can then begin to have actual discourse. It’s in a way, it’s radically respecting the other person’s selfhood. 

I learned this from personal experience because I’ve been married to a conservative commentator for 39 years. And I change people’s minds for a living, that’s what I do. So of course I thought, with total arrogance, that I could certainly change his – an intelligent guy like this. And for the first, I would say probably for the first 10 years, I really gave it the old college try.

With you and Richard, what is the difference of values between you? 

If I thought that we had fundamentally different values, I couldn’t be with him. I think this is the main idea in my book. I have a chapter called “What is a core value?” And to me a core value is not your political philosophy.

There was one person I interviewed who really embodied this, a young woman, and her father was a dear friend of mine. He died a very terrible death. He had five brothers and sisters, all of whom were progressives and she totally identified with these people. He had one brother who had moved to the South, converted to evangelical Christianity, and was in the military. Guess who was the only person who showed up to help her? And he left his wife and his five children far away and came. Not one of the progressives – she knew them well – lifted a finger. And this was not lost on her. 

They had been fighting on Facebook about all kinds of stuff. She made a heartfelt apology to him. She said, “I have misjudged you.” So she found out that they really did share core values even though they had a lot of things not in common, the things that were the fundamental human values.

So, to understand where people are coming from, you have to have mutual respect?

You don’t start trying to understand the other person, you first start understanding yourself. Your own prejudices, your own resistance, the way that you are obnoxious. For instance, if you take an article from your point of view and you stick it in the face of the other person at the breakfast table, or send it to them on e-mail or whatever, and you expect that this is going to be a way to have a dialogue. It has never worked yet. 

Has social media made it more difficult to have real dialogue?

I have eight commandments. And one of them is, “avoid social media.” Do not read what the other person says. You know what they’re gonna say. Consider it like their diary. Stay away from that and, whatever you do, do not “unfriend.” It is a disaster. People are devastated. It’s very hard to fix. And if you have something to say to somebody, I say go analog. That is, write him a letter. Call him on the telephone. Or go and see them. And I counsel people to do this. And I think I saved a few relationships that way.

So it is possible to preserve relationships in this fraught era?

I did not expect this because I’m not the biggest optimist. I can give you some examples of some of them where I really thought it was hopeless. I often told them what to do. You know like, if you love your sister and she’s on the left and you’re on the right, don’t just keep yelling, “Trump is everything.” Think about the fact that you were dear friends when you were children.

I said, “What are her good qualities?” And the brother said, “She has a great sense of beauty and she lives a life of the mind.” And I said, “How about telling her that?”

He’d alienated everybody else in the family. Why don’t you tell her that this is something too precious to lose. And I wrote three months later and he said, “We’re avoiding politics and we’re doing much better.”

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A letter from

North Liberty, Iowa

5. How to mark a centennial? At this famed California library, with a rose.

Finally, a Monitor reporter who recently moved out to the Los Angeles area shares how she was inspired to, well, stop and smell the roses at a “temple to the humanities” near her new home base.

Mark Sheehan
The lemon-fragranced 'Huntington's 100th' rose, 10 years in the making, is sampled by the Monitor's Francine Kiefer.

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A rose is a rose is a rose, but the “Huntington’s 100th” is something special. With creamy yellow blooms, ruffled pink edges, and a lemony aroma, it’s marking the 100th anniversary of the famed Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens near Los Angeles.

Tom Carruth bred this bloom in 2009, when he worked for the commercial grower Weeks Roses. But it takes 10 to 12 years to develop a viable rose, he says, and he lost track of the flower after leaving Weeks and becoming the curator of the Huntington’s rose collection, which includes nearly 1,300 varieties. It was only when he was searching for a commemorative rose that he became reacquainted with his earlier work.

The Huntington is celebrating the August day in 1919 when railroad builder Henry Huntington and his wife, Arabella, established a trust to share their books, artworks, and gardens with the public. The anniversary rose can be found near a sundial that’s surrounded by a circle of other roses.

Once the Huntington’s 100th is more fully established there, says Mr. Carruth, “you’ll be able to walk in that circle and not put your nose to it to smell it.”

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How to mark a centennial? At this famed California library, with a rose.

The sign says, “Ask me about roses.” So someone does.

“Could you tell me where we can see the new hybrid?” asks Jilliene Schenkel, standing under the welcome shade of a towering magnolia tree. She is here at the famed Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens near Los Angeles, where a new rose has been chosen to mark the 100th anniversary of this veritable temple to the humanities.

The man in front of the sign directs her toward a sundial surrounded by a circle of brilliant yellow roses. On that hilltop spot, the main attraction is planted immediately behind the yellows.

A rose is a rose is a rose, but the new “Huntington’s 100th” is something special – 10 years in the making by Tom Carruth, the award-winning curator of this stunning rose collection. The garden, which was first created for the enjoyment of railroad builder Henry Huntington and his wife, Arabella, is distinguished today by its vast assortment of nearly 1,300 rose varieties.

The new addition blooms in clusters of creamy yellow, then adds a gentle pink to the ruffled edges as they develop. But the calling card of the 100th is the fragrance – an intense lemon aroma, with “a little touch of powder fragrance to it,” says its creator.

“It does smell lemony, and really strong! It’s wonderful,” says Malinda Muller, who joined Ms. Schenkel in a visit to the garden on a recent Sunday.

Like Ms. Schenkel, I had read about the rose and was eager to visit the Huntington. My only other visit to this former estate and its extensive collection of books, artworks, and plants was more than 30 years ago. Back then I made sure I saw “The Blue Boy,” the full-length portrait by English painter Thomas Gainsborough, and the Huntington’s impressive Japanese garden.

Now I’m living in nearby Pasadena just as this institution celebrates the August day in 1919 when the couple established a trust to share their collections with the public. For Mr. Carruth, the curator, it seemed fitting that the anniversary also include a new blossom for the rose garden that gave the Huntingtons such pleasure – and supplied their ample flower arrangements.

Francine Kiefer/The Christian Science Monitor
Bill Morgan, a volunteer rosarian at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens near Los Angeles, invites questions from visitors under the shade of a magnolia tree on June 30.

To search for a rose worthy of such an honor, Mr. Carruth took his crew to the commercial rose fields in Wasco, in California’s Central Valley. As they walked along a block of “well-behaved” plants, “the rose just grabbed me,” Mr. Carruth says.

To his great surprise, it turned out to be his own creation. He bred it in 2009, when he worked for the commercial grower Weeks Roses. It takes 10 to 12 years to develop a viable rose, says Mr. Carruth, and he left Weeks for the Huntington before he had a chance to see his work come to fruition. 

Mr. Carruth’s passion for “the queen of flowers” stems from his boyhood. As a kindergartner in the Texas Panhandle, he lost his heart to a pale purple beauty called Sterling Silver that grew at the home of his mother’s best friend. As an adult, he blossomed into a plant scientist who has introduced 147 rose varieties to the world and won top national awards for his creations.

Back at the “Ask me about roses” sign, volunteer rosarian Bill Morgan fields questions from under the magnolia. A dozen clipped rose blossoms line a tray on a table in front of him. Their labels hint at their characteristics, such as the pale pink Lady Emma Hamilton – an 18th-century English performer and lover to naval hero Lord Nelson whose coy portrait hangs in the Huntington’s European gallery.

The anniversary flower, whose commercial name is Life of the Party, is not in Mr. Morgan’s lineup on this day, but he regularly gets queries about it. Potted plants of the Huntington’s 100th sold out in record time at this spring’s plant sale.

One woman wants to know whether the centennial rose would do well on the coast, where “June gloom” creates cool temperatures and overcast skies. The leaves of her rose plants get all moldy. Mr. Morgan assures her this is a “vigorous” plant that does well in a lot of climates.

I pipe up with a question. Hardly a rose expert – or even a gardener – I ask whether the 100th bushes are between blooms, because buds seriously outnumber blossoms. Meanwhile, other varieties are going gangbusters, including one gorgeous peachy-pink called Jump for Joy.

As it turns out, this celebrated newcomer blooms continually, but it drops its petals more quickly than others.

The trade-off is the fragrance, explains the Huntington’s curator. That’s why long-lasting roses shipped to the United States from Ecuador for Valentine’s Day look fantastic but have no scent.

Also, the celebrity bushes by the sundial are still young, he points out, unlike the more robust surrounding varieties, which are older and more established.

“No rose is perfect,” says Mr. Carruth. But once the Huntington’s 100th gets going, “you’ll be able to walk in that circle and not put your nose to it to smell it.”

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The Monitor's View

Humility wins in a Greek election

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With a humility rarely heard in Europe, the new Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told voters after his election victory on Sunday, “We are too few to stay divided.” In just a few words, he summed up what Greece has learned after years of possibly leaving the single-currency zone of the European Union.

The message: Instead of going it alone as a small country, Greece must unite to find a better role within the EU.

In a world drawing ever closer, humility about not making it on one’s own has become a virtue. This is a lesson for Europe’s populists of the left and right who assert the need for national self-reliance in both economics and identity.

The EU has shown how to integrate sovereign and equal states yet allow each to keep much of its social identity. Out of hubris, Greeks came close to divorcing the EU. Now they cannot imagine themselves outside it.

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Humility wins in a Greek election

With a humility rarely heard in Europe, the new Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told voters after his election victory on Sunday, “We are too few to stay divided.” In just a few words, he summed up what Greece has learned after years of possibly leaving the single-currency zone of the European Union.

The message: Instead of going it alone as a small country, Greece must unite to find a better role within the EU.

Greeks, Mr. Mitsotakis said, should now work across their political divides to not “be a beggar or a poor relative” within the EU. Indeed, Greece is only 2% of the EU population. By the end of this century, Europe itself will be 4% of the world population. At the start of the 20th century, it was 20%.

In a world drawing ever closer, humility about not making it on one’s own has become a virtue. This is a lesson for Europe’s populists of the left and right who assert the need for national self-reliance in both economics and identity.

As Europe learned the hard way from its 20th-century conflicts, the effort to go it alone leads to totalitarianism. Dictators flourish by claiming the need for a nation to be self-focused. The best example today: North Korea, whose official ideology is juche, or self-reliance.

Greece toyed with leaving the eurozone after its 2009 financial crash, which was caused by official lying about its debt. Yet after being rescued with three bailouts from creditors and enduring difficult reforms under the left-wing Syriza party, voters in Sunday’s election chose the center-right New Democracy party of Mr. Mitsotakis. Despite the swing toward conservatism, he told voters, “I’ll work to convince you that I’m everyone’s prime minister.”

In a visit to Greece earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said leaders of different political stripes have a “common foundation” within the EU. “That includes the deep conviction that cooperation with each other is in any case better than nationalism, which has so often led us in Europe to catastrophe,” she emphasized.

The EU has shown how to integrate sovereign and equal states yet allow each to keep much of its social identity. Out of hubris, Greeks came close to divorcing the EU. Now, in humility, they cannot imagine themselves outside it.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

Prayer that renews and refreshes

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Sometimes even a break from day-to-day obligations isn’t enough to leave us feeling truly reinvigorated. But wherever we may be, taking the time to pray and listen for inspiration from God can bring rest, refreshment, and even healing.

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Prayer that renews and refreshes

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Have you ever noticed that time away from work can fail to give the refreshment and renewal you had anticipated? I’ve experienced this phenomenon after both physically active and more sedentary time off. I’ve also returned from both kinds feeling refreshed.

What made the difference? For me, it was prayer.

My job requires me to be on call 24 hours a day, every day. So some years ago when my family and I left on a beach trip, I was really looking forward to some downtime.

As we drove, I noticed a bit of pain on the inside of my mouth – a small sore spot. Nothing major, I reasoned. I have had healings through prayer all of my life, so it was normal for me to turn to God in prayer whenever I had a need. I’ve come to think of prayer as communion with God, good. Being more conscious of God’s allness, I’ve found, empowers us to experience more of God’s harmony in our lives.

But since praying for myself seemed like work, and I wasn’t going to work on my vacation, I ignored the discomfort in my mouth. And that’s where things stayed all week.

We had a great time, but as we were heading home I felt exhausted. I wasn’t looking forward to going back to the intensive demands of my job. We had an all-night drive ahead, and my mouth still hurt.

About 2 a.m., I thought, “This is ridiculous. You have nothing else to do but think, so you might as well pray for yourself.”

I love to turn to God, but for several years prior to this experience, I had been praying continually for my family, my job, my church, my community. Having come to equate prayer with work, I’d avoided praying for myself, instead accepting the discomfort all week. Finally, on that drive home, it seemed silly not to take advantage of the quiet time to find the freedom that has always come when I’ve drawn close to God.

There’s nothing that makes me feel more joyous, rested, and alive than feeling close to God. So my prayers that night began with gratitude for God, for all the healings I’d ever had, which included flu and cold symptoms, swollen glands, broken bones, pulled muscles, difficult relationships, financial concerns, and more. I also felt grateful for all the messages of encouragement and love I’d ever received from God. I listened for God’s inspiration right there in the dark as we drove along.

What I heard was a profound assurance that prayer was not a burden. It was not something I had to use to get God to do something for me. It was really a way to enjoy seeing what God, good, had already done and is always doing – that is, a lens through which to see the goodness of God magnified.

No more than 30 minutes had gone by when I realized that the sore in my mouth was totally healed. I had to laugh at myself for thinking of prayer as a burden while enduring this discomfort all week. I felt overjoyed and rejuvenated all the rest of the night’s drive. And I cheerfully put in a full day’s work when we arrived home. I couldn’t wait to apply what I’d learned about healing and prayer to my job, family, and community activities.

This experience helped me realize that restfulness doesn’t depend on how much sleep we’ve gotten or how busy we are, but is really a natural, spiritual state. Our very being, our true nature, is the expression of the energy and harmony of God, the infinite source of all effortless cause and effect. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “God rests in action. Imparting has not impoverished, can never impoverish, the divine Mind. No exhaustion follows the action of this Mind, according to the apprehension of divine Science. The highest and sweetest rest, even from a human standpoint, is in holy work” (pp. 519-520).

At the beach, at home, or at school, letting God inspire our thoughts and actions rests, refreshes, and heals us.

Adapted from an article published in the Jan. 29, 2001, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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Follow the leader

Thibault Camus/AP
The pack with Netherlands’ Mike Teunissen wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, right, rides during the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race start in Binche and finish in Epernay, July 8. The Tour, which covers 2,100 miles, began July 6 and will conclude at the Champs-Élysées in Paris on July 28.
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Jacob Turcotte. )
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In Our Next Issue

( July 9th, 2019 )

Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

Come back tomorrow. We’re kicking off a three-part series with a look at some programs that pair younger farmers with older ones, solving a financial hurdle by giving the newest players access to land. 

Before you go, a question: When do you read the Daily? As soon as we go live (U.S. East Coast evening)? When it’s daybreak where you are? We’re experimenting with the idea of serving you something new in the morning. Here’s one sample. I’d welcome your thoughts at collinsc@csmonitor.com. Please mention your time zone!

Monitor Daily Podcast

July 08, 2019
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