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Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes Hardcover – August 30, 2016
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“Victuals promises to be the jewel in [Ronni Lundy’s] crown, setting the record straight about her native cuisine, too long dismissed as homogenized, and telling instead the real story of a cookery thrillingly formed at the crossings of African, European, and Native Nation traditions. Did we mention it comes with recipes?”--Oxford American
"Each chapter of Victuals focuses on a tentpole of Appalachian cuisine; an ingredient or a tradition. Essays on each, along with 80 recipes, tell the story of this diverse mountain cuisine through the words of one of its biggest champions." -- Epicurious
”Lundy is a warm and charming guide with a deep-seated love and respect for the region and its approach to cuisine. Fans of locally sourced foods and Southern cooking will find a lot to like here, as Lundy does a terrific job of showcasing Appalachia’s breadth and depth.” --Publishers Weekly
“Perhaps the finest book ever about mountain food.” --The Bitter Southerner
"Long after the plates are cleaned and the dishes washed, I’ll return to this book for the stories. Lundy on Appalachia is like Edna Lewis on Virginia... Her voice brims with grace and good humor. She is a marvel, and “Victuals” her masterpiece." --Wendell Brock, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"A loving portrait of Appalachian food, past and future"-- Epicurious
"The recipes in Victuals are appealing enough to have begun making their way into my repertoire -- an August experiment with her dead-simple recipe for cornbread led to my eating a whole pan of it within 24 hours. But it's the nuanced glimpse the book offers of Appalachia, both poor and rich, supportive and combative, that I imagine will stick with me." --National Geographic
In her new book Victuals: An Applachian Journey, with Recipes -- you may pronounce it "vittles" -- the Asheville-based author tells the story of a region. Her region. The one she explored growing up and as an itinerant chronicler of Appalachian culture." --USA Today
"Four thousand miles Lundy drove for her new book, gathering tales, recipes and anecdotes. It's a journey that comes alive in color far more vivid than those images you'll often see, the kind that paint Appalachia as a backwater monoculture." --USA Today
"To call it a cookbook seems almost unfair. This is not just a collection of recipes or, as so many cookbooks these days are, a "branding opportunity" for an aspiring chef. In Victuals -- which the book's cover makes clear is pronounced "viddles" -- Lundy has written a love letter to the foods, culture, and fortitude of Appalachian people." --Washington Post
"Part reminiscence, part living history, Victuals (right on the book cover, Lundy stresses that the word is pronounced “vi-dls”) would be an important study of southern Appalachia even without the 80 recipes that illustrate the region’s culinary diversity." --Chicago Tribune
"Victuals is a breathtaking work of literature that sneaks up on you, casts a spell, and corrects your misconceptions; it’s a cookbook less about cook and more book."--The A.V. Club
About the Author
Born in Corbin, Kentucky, RONNI LUNDY has long chronicled the people of the hillbilly diaspora as a journalist and cookbook author. She is the former restaurant reviewer and music critic for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, former editor of Louisville Magazine, and has contributed to many national magazines. Her book Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken was recognized by Gourmet magazine as one of six essential books on Southern cooking. In 2009, Lundy received the Southern Foodways Alliance Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award. She has contributed to Eating Well,Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Esquire, and other magazines.
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Reading these recipes takes me back along the years, from fried cornmeal mush to spiced pickled peaches (which were a holiday specialty), to my mom's kitchen and my grandfather's woodswalks. Such a treasure to read and own.
What the cookbook is: A genuine, unpretentious journey through Appalachia by way of its history, food, and people.
What the cookbook is not: A book only of traditional, old-fashioned recipes.
Who this book is best suited for: A home cook who enjoys reading about and trying food (some traditional, some not) from different American regions.
Three words to sum it up: A sincere homage.
Right off the bat, Ronni Lundy takes us on a journey through the Mountain South in her part travelogue, part cookbook. The book cover is lined with a hand-drawn road map. After thumbing through pages of journalistic style photos by Johnny Autry, Lundy invites us to join her on her road trip over passes and down hollers, riding shotgun with the promise of Nabs in the glove compartment.
Though Lundy's writing sways between anthropological and autobiographical, she manages to do it well. Every chapter opens with a vignette about a traditional Appalachian food history (chapters include apples, sorghum, corn, beans, and preserving among others) and it shines a spotlight on the generations of people, then and now, who work(ed) to keep regional traditions alive. I use the word 'alive' loosely here.
When speaking about Appalachian food culture's viability in her introduction, Lundy points out, "By the time a group of us assembled...in 2008 for an eleven-day celebration and seminar on southern Appalchian foodways, I knew we weren't talking about a dying anything."
Lundy writes about the challenges Appalachian folks face, like living with the horrific effects of mountain top removal, and the triumphs, like grown children and grandchildren revitalizing and re-visioning multi-generational salt mines and U-pick orchards.
Throughout, there's also a beautiful dance between traditional and non-traditional: stories of a gristmill powered by a waterwheel the good old fashioned way. And salt evaporated using solar panels rather than black kettles over fire. Recipes for greasy beans strung on a string. And banana pudding layered with miso banana bread. Whether old or new, food, one of life's greatest pleasures, and its history anchors every chapter. And she reminds us that the very best pleasures take time.
Speaking of, I couldn't resist testing The Shack's Sweet and Savory Banana Pudding. At times, this recipe felt like it had moving parts because there were many different stages, time being a primary ingredient; it took 24 hours when all was said and done. There was the making and setting of the homemade vanilla pudding (4ish hours), the making and cooling of the miso banana bread (2ish hours), and the final setting of the pudding (overnight). Was it worth it? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was, I don't say this often because I am a banana pudding connoisseur, in the top-5 best banana puddings I've ever eaten. It still had the familiar marriage of Nilla wafers softened slightly under sliced bananas and homemade vanilla pudding but with a umami surprise folded in for good (really good) measure.
That's one of many recipes that beckon to be made: Pickled Baloney and Banana Peppers, Chili Buns and Slaw Dogs, Kale Potato Pancakes, Apple Stack Cake are among others I can't wait to try.
Because it's not all 'old fashioned' recipes and since there is more prose than recipes, I can understand why an Appalachian food-purist might be a little critical of this cookbook style. But there in lies Lundy's point. She writes to portray a culture outside of stereotypes and expectations, and Autry does the same in his photographs. There is something for everyone; the old-timer , the newlyweds, the city-folk, the people from "up home"...you get my drift.
Most recent customer reviews
beginning to the end. Why? Because I knew that I had come across a beautiful and thoughtfully written cookbook that...Read more