On Thursday, March 2, the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center was excited to welcome food and music writer, Ronni Lundy to lead the Dinner on the Grounds event with a reading of her beautiful new cookbook, Victuals. People gathered in high anticipation around bowls of steaming noodles from locally owned and operated Noodle Nirvana.
As everyone was sitting down chatting and slurping up their final bites, Ronni Lundy stood up before the crowd with a smile on her face and cracked open her cookbook to read the introduction. Her words flowed like musical notes from the pages on to the ears of the audience members. There was a sense that everyone there could have listened to her talk all day long.
Too soon, the reading ended, and the event moved on to a question and answer session with Lundy. One student asked about defining the diversity of Appalachian cooking. Ronni responded explaining that because Appalachia is a place made up of immigrants and a multitude of racial backgrounds, the food reflects that diversity. There is food in Appalachia made with Asian spins, Middle Eastern twists, and more. Lundy answered every question with a depth appropriate to the complexity of food issues. The audience was given a glimpse of her wide breadth of knowledge about not only food in the Appalachian region, but of the complexities of the history and tradition in the region, as well.
At the end of the event, Lundy retreated to the back of the center to sign copies of Victuals. I bought a copy of one for my mother in the hopes that we can learn together some of these traditional recipes and carry on the traditions of our region. Rarely have I seen a book so well-composed. Now, when I say this book is beautiful, I mean it is beautiful in every sense of the word. Lundy reveals recipes through storytelling, introducing readers to Appalachian narratives, foodways, and traditions. She represents the complexity and diversity of the Appalachian region and people by sharing history and recipes that one may not originally think of as Appalachian. Alongside her narrative and recipes, are pictures that seem to jump off the page. It seems like readers can almost taste the food displayed within.
Before and after the Dinner on the Grounds event, Lundy offered her time to classrooms. There, she answered questions about her craft and about her life in general. She gave advice to students and further contextualized her writing experiences. The center is thankful to have had the opportunity to have this talented writer and carrier of history to share her new cookbook with us.
Article written by Emily Masters