Arts & Humanities Campus News

Book explores Appalachian foodways and its people

When one thinks of “traditional” mountain recipes, images of apple stack cake, leather britches and pickled watermelon may come to mind.

However, when Erica Abrams Locklear’s mother passed along a cookbook made and assembled by her grandmother, Locklear discovered recipes for devil’s food cake with coconut icing, grape catsup and fig pickles. Some recipes even relied on food products like Bisquick, Swans Down flour and Calumet baking powder.

In “Appalachia on the Table,” Locklear explores long-held preconceptions about Appalachian foodways and her own implicit judgements she’d made about her grandmother based on these preconceptions. The book argues that since the conception of Appalachia as a distinctly different region from the rest of the South and the United States, the foods associated with the region have often been used to socially categorize and stigmatize mountain people.

Locklear focuses on the representations of foods consumed, implied moral judgments about those foods and how those judgments shape reader perceptions. Through her analysis, Locklear asks, how did the dominant culinary narrative of the region come into existence and what consequences has that narrative had for people in the mountains?

Locklear will be discussing “Appalachia on the Table” with Josina Guess, senior writer for The Bitter Southerner, at the Special Collections Libraries Building on Sept. 21.