Food Artisans, Roadhouse

Learn the Culinary Secrets of the Mountain South with Appalachian Food Expert Ronni Lundy

Ronni Lundy's Spring Ham Peas and Potatoes in a bowl

Spring Ham, Peas, Potatoes will be served with Grilled Trout at the Roadhouse’s Appalachian dinner

Ronni Lundy probably knows more about the foodways and folkways of Appalachia than anyone else in America. I’ve been hoping to get her to town now for years! Her kindness, care and insider understanding of an oft-misunderstood part of American culture are something special. If you like food and learning, you will not want miss her visit to Zingerman’s Roadhouse next month.

The Irish poet, John O’Donohue says, “Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore.” His wise words, I think, apply to many of us on many fronts, and I would say, still holds true for many who live outside of Appalachia. While we’ve all heard the name, most Americans know little or nothing about the area. We hear the names of the states (Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina), but unless we come from there or have spent significant time studying their history and culture, we have minimal understanding of this fascinating section of the country.  Stereotypes get us stuck.

Ronni Lundy

Author and Appalachian expert Ronni Lundy

In an era where curiosity and care for people different than ourselves often seems sorely lacking, taking the time to get to know someone—or in this case, someplace—is a gift we can give ourselves, and those who we are getting to know. Ronni Lundy knows the Appalachian region at a depth of spiritual understanding that I only hope one day I will be able to replicate, really, for anything.

“While I didn’t grow up in them,” she writes in her James Beard-award winning new book, Victuals, “I grew up of the mountains, and all my life I have held these connections that are a beautiful and remarkable gift.”

On the evening of May 15, we are fortunate to have Ronni coming to share stories of her 70 years of living both in and of the mountains.  This is our chance to hear stories from the heart, of the heart, and to move past  preconceived notions to see—and taste—the beauty, wisdom and wonderful work of the foodways and culture that make the Southern Appalachian region so special.

Skillet Fried Chicken is a one of the entree choices at the upcoming dinner

As she writes in her amazing book, Victuals, “[L]ooking through the lens of real Southern mountain food—the methods of its growing, processing and eating—we began to see a vivid picture of a region and its people that had little in common with their most prevalent and demeaning stereotypes.”

If you don’t want to just take my word for the amazing quality of her work, know that Ronni’s earlier book, Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken was recognized by Gourmet magazine as one of six essential books on Southern cooking. In 2017, Lundy received a James Beard Award for Victuals.  In 2009, she received the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award.  She is truly a living treasure and someone we’re very fortunate to have.

Country Ham Flatbread

Country Ham Flatbread

If you want another testament to the excellence of Ronni’s writing and scholarship, the marvelous musician Emmylou Harris said, that, “Victuals is so much more than just another cookbook. It’s a marvelous travelogue and history of an under-appreciated and often misrepresented part of America, it’s people and culture, written lovingly by my friend, Ronni Lundy. Still, as I finished the last pages, with their stunning illustrations, I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen and try my hand at the delicious recipes she has gathered for all of us who just plain love good food.”

Ronni’s dinner at the Roadhouse, are meant to do the same.  You or I could make the trip for ourselves and traverse those same 4000 miles, but in the meantime, please don’t miss out. I’m confident, both culinary and culturally memorable. I will be there. I hope you will too.

Exploring Appalachian Cooking with Ronni Lundy takes place May 15, 2018 at 7pm. See the full menu and reserve a seat on Zingerman’s Roadhouse’s website