Dr. Walter Edgar, South Carolina’s most esteemed historian, is talking food tonight on ETV.

Cookbook authors Matt and Ted Lee and Southern Foodways Alliance director John T. Edge join Edgar on Take on the South for a debate about what real Southern cooking is. Is it traditional dishes of the old South or has it been redefined by the New Southern food renaissance?

The Lee Bros. make the case for an evolving approach to Southern food while Edge maintains that Southern cooking has been defined by previous generations and, while Southern culture and its food is not static, it should take into account what has come before. Basically, he says, you shouldn’t be putting swiss cheese in your grits and barbecue rub on your shrimp.

The show starts out with the guests behind the podium, formally making their cases, followed by an informal seated discussion. They talk about their favorite foods, Southern barbecue traditions, and all kinds of issues surrounding the documentation of the changing Southern food culture.

Interesting facts: Mayor Joe Riley and his sons introduced the “Lee boys” to boiled peanuts at baseball games; John T. likes to eat tomatoes in the height of the season right over the sink; and Walter Edgar’s favorite meal is a fried pork chop with rice, turnip greens, fresh cornbread, and plenty of pot likker.

You can tune in to your local PBS station tonight at 7 p.m., or you can pop over to scetv.org and watch the episode online.

It’s a nerdy, academic kind of talk, but it’s interesting nonetheless, particularly if you’re a food nerd too.

Love Best of Charleston?

Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.