Food writer Ronni Lundy will celebrate the release of her new book, Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes, with a Lunch Launch book-signing event Wednesday, Sept. 7, at Early Girl Eatery.
Featuring 80 recipes and anecdotes, Victuals — pronounced “viddles” — spotlights staples of Appalachian cuisine such as apples, corn, sorghum and beans along with the people and food culture of the area. “This is not just a collection of recipes or, as so many cookbooks these days are, a ‘branding opportunity’ for an aspiring chef,” writes Jane Black in an Aug. 30 review of the book in The Washington Post. “Lundy has written a love letter to the foods, culture and fortitude of Appalachian people. In it, we learn to make dishes such as a pot of ‘mountain green beans and taters,’ but we also get a deeper understanding of the role those dishes continue to play in some of America’s oldest communities.”
“There’s lately been a great interest everywhere in sustainable methods of food production,” says Lundy. “But one thing that’s fairly unique about the Appalachian region is that so many people here have never stopped methods of small farming, seed saving, foraging, fermenting. This has been a continuous tradition and it enriches our larder in distinct ways.” And the attention Early Girl owners John and Julie Stehling pay to this tradition makes their flagship restaurant an ideal venue for the launch of Victuals.
“[They] were among the vanguard of Asheville restaurateurs supporting local growers, producers and artists, but with a telling difference,” says Lundy, who has known the Stehlings since she became a “faithful customer” at Early Girl shortly after it opened in 2002. “Instead of hooking up with a grower and asking for specific crops to suit his menu, John would drive the back roads of the region looking for farm stands and store unusual local products such as sorghum syrup, and then try to figure out what to do with them.”
“She really is a Southern treasure, and we are so honored to be involved in any manner with her work,” says Julie Stehling. “She has become our friend, and we love her, but we never stop being wowed by the authenticity and joy of all of her books. She knows how to get folks to talk, and she always knows the right way to share their story.” The day of the Lunch Launch, both Early Girl and King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffle will offer specials featuring recipes from Victuals.
In addition to the Lunch Launch at Early Girl, Lundy will do a cooking demonstration and Sunday Supper with chef John Fleer at Rhubarb on Sunday, Sept. 25.