Name: Jed Portman
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Freelance writer, recent college graduate
Guilty pleasures? You know, I don't really believe in guilty pleasures. If I had to name one, though, it would probably be Bagel Bites. God, I can eat those things by the case—the family-sized case, I mean, not the puny nine-bagel regular case. I guess I ought to be ashamed of that. I also like cheap beer.
Describe your perfect meal. Pork, coarse chopped, extra brown from Lexington BBQ with slaw, hush puppies, pork skins, and a big styrofoam cup of Cheerwine. Topped off with a slice of pecan pie, maybe, and a glass of bourbon. As a fisherman, I also love a cornmeal-dipped, pan-fried trout.
What food won't you eat? There are only two things that I won't eat: yogurt and bananas. I think it's the texture that gets me.
Favorite food person? Sean Brock. A handful of other people doing good things for food and drink in the South—Allan Benton, John Currence, and John T. Edge, to name a few—are in the running, too.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? That was probably the first time I traveled more than an hour just to try a restaurant (my current record is six hours, to Husk in Charleston).
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? People usually humor me as long as I don't give them too much trouble. I was almost picked up and carried out of Prince's Hot Chicken in Nashville by some buddies a couple of years ago when I wouldn't give up and leave after a (pretty typical) two-hour wait for the chicken. We called ahead a couple of hours before we went back the next day, at my insistence, but let me tell you: that chicken is worth waiting for.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? Depends on where I am. I do spend a lot of time on Yelp and will ask folks around town for suggestions when I'm in a new place.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Dinner, at Amy Ruth's in Harlem. That place has the best fried chicken and sides in New York City. I dare anyone to tell me otherwise.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I didn't cook much until I moved out to northwestern Montana and realized that, if I wanted to keep eating the foods I'd grown up with, I'd have to learn to make them myself. The first recipes that I learned by heart were for fried chicken, biscuits, and pimento cheese. I'm a better cook now than I was then, but those three things are still my specialties.