By Kevin McDonough
Culture, history and cuisine take center stage on "Somewhere South" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings). Host and chef Vivian Howard explores the people, the struggles and the stories behind Southern cooking.
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The first of six episodes focuses on hand pies, the simple pastries, both savory and sweet, that reflect local pride and traditions. Cultures all over the world have their own hand pies. England and Australia boast of the "pasty," a little meat pie most associated with Cornwall, pub grub and comfort food. Latin cultures from Spain to South and Central America to the Philippines have their varieties of empanadas. Howard recalls traveling to Argentina during her college years and falling in love with the little meat pies.
The host evokes her own North Carolina background with a trip to a little factory making fruit-filled hand pies, deep-fried pastries enjoyed by generations of factory workers in the furniture and textile plants that used to proliferate in the Tarheel State.
She travels north to West Virginia to help judge a county fair's "pepperoni roll" contest. Unique to the state, these pastries were created by generations of Italian Americans who moved to West Virginia to work in the coal mines.
Finally, Howard returns to North Carolina, to visit a restaurant in Raleigh created by second- and third-generation Mexican Americans. Like many ethnic groups before them, these young chefs have departed from their parents' menus. They've jettisoned "gringo-friendly" Mexican fare to celebrate more traditional cuisine from their homeland, which has found an eager clientele with urban eaters bearing more adventurous palates.
Howard brings an intelligence and enthusiasm to the proceedings, even if she can sometimes affect an air of self-satisfaction. She occasionally lapses into observations and long passages that seem better suited to the page than TV narration.
In a world overstuffed with food bloggers, podcasts, NPR chatterers and food websites that require one to wade through paragraphs of autobiography to locate a simple recipe, she's a pleasant, smart traveling companion for this trip "Somewhere South."
• Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum, the hosting team that made "Project Runway" a longtime hit on Bravo, Lifetime and then Bravo again, reunite for the Amazon Prime series "Making the Cut."
"Cut" deviates from "Runway" in inviting already-established designers to participate. Each talent already has a good job for an established line. They're grown-up professionals eager to bore us with talk about their "brand." And instead of camping out in some dormlike loft, each gets their own room in a fancy Manhattan hotel.
Sadly, the lack of unknown kids to root for pretty much robs "Cut" of much fun.
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• A plot to loot purloined paintings on "The Blacklist" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt star in director Quentin Tarantino's 2019 drama "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" (8 p.m., Starz).
• Henry bickers with Danny on "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
Austin teens greet the bicentennial summer in director Richard Linklater's 1993 coming-of-age comedy "Dazed and Confused" (9 p.m., Starz Encore).
Murder's on the menu on "MacGyver" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Nursery solutions on "Shark Tank" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * Distinguishing witch from that on "Charmed" (8 p.m. CW, TV-PG) * A clue from beyond the grave on "Hawaii Five-0" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Fallon monitors Connor on "Dynasty" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
Jim Gaffigan and Tom Steyer are on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Carrie Underwood, Diego Luna and Lauv on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC, r) * Bob Odenkirk, Iliza Shlesinger and Soccer Mommy are on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC, r) * Glenn Howerton, Andrew Yang, Margaret Atwood and Yesod Williams visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) * Kate Beckinsale, Josh Lucas and Andy Haynes visit "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).
© 2020, United Feature Syndicate
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