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story.lead_photo.caption Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist

FOODIES

The July issue of Southern Living can make a person's mouth water. It is, after all, The Summer Food Issue.

And a couple of Arkansans are among the 20 Southern Food Legends getting a lot of love from writer John T. Edge for their culinary prowess.

The first is Elihue Washington Jr., owner of the venerable Lassis Inn, 518 E. 27th St., in Little Rock.

The entry, which features a photo of Washington behind the restaurant's counter, tells how Molassis and Joe Watson started selling sandwiches out of their home in 1907 and later opened their restaurant. In 1957, it was a meeting space for civil rights leaders during the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis.

Edge calls Washington "The Fish Master" and raves about his tasty buffalo fish ribs.

"Here, warm conversation and buffalo ribs are the preferred sustenance. Cut from buffalo fish that's battered and fried and served alongside 40-ounce beers, they are artifacts of commerce and community."

Also featured is Rhoda Adams, "The Tamale Artist," of Rhoda's Famous Hot Tamales, 714 Saint Mary's St., in Lake Village.

While her tamales are noted, it is Adams' half-and-half pies -- "her own inscrutable invention" -- that are singled out.

"Creamy sweet potato on one side and gooey pecan nougat on the other, tucked in an honest crust, they come in 3-inch tins," Edge writes. "Eaten out of hand, they are idealized and delicious tokens of her ingenuity."

HERO When Shannin Rae Watkins was growing up in Magnolia, one of her idols was Mariah Carey. The first time she ever performed for an audience was when she was 12, belting out Carey's "Hero" at the Columbia County Fair.

Watkins is now a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter-producer known as Shining Rae -- her friends call her Rae -- and her latest single is "Tap Out."

Late last month, Rae left a gathering at the home of her friend, the director Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour films, X Men: The Last Stand, The Family Man, Tower Heist). She was on her way to a studio session when Ratner called and asked her to return.

Not long after getting back to his house she found herself face-to-face with her childhood idol, Carey.

"She goes, 'Rae!' And I was like, frozen," Rae says. "And then she hugged me. She is very warm and loving and told me she believed in what I was doing."

Soon they were singing together, duetting on Carey's 1993 smash "Dreamlover," and a photo of the pair hugging is posted at shiningrae.com.

They also watched videos directed by Ratner of Carey's songs, giving Rae the surreal experience of sitting on a couch with Mariah Carey watching Mariah Carey videos at Brett Ratner's house.

"It freaked me out," Rae says with a laugh.

Tips? Suggestions? email: sclancy@arkansasonline.com

SundayMonday on 07/21/2019

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