Media Fact Sheet

APPALACHIAN HOME COOKING: HISTORY, CULTURE, AND RECIPES

Author:  Mark F. Sohn, PhD

Summary:

Appalachian Home Cooking: History, Culture, and Recipes, The University Press of Kentucky, 2005,  is a concise presentation of history, culture, recipes, and resources which reflects the rich culture of Appalachia. Because of Sohn’s excitement, the food comes alive on every page. In addition, the photos, references, menus, and mail order resources make the book a beginning point for further study or school projects.

This book reflects the food and traditions grown from a region’s topography, climate, and soil. It unfolds a changing food that evolved from Native American, Eastern European, Scotch-Irish, Black, and Hispanic groups whose cultures met in the mountains and became something new. However, in addition to its exploration of history, Appalachian Home Cooking serves cooks in the kitchen with over eighty mountain recipes that will allow you to continue the discussion over a meal, at a party, or in a classroom.

Appalachian Home Cooking uses Sohn’s knowledge of the region and experience as a chef to uncover the romantic secrets of Appalachian food. With a scholarly orientation, Sohn discusses topics such as edible wild plants, cast-iron cookware, and the Appalachian homeplace. His food journey takes you back to the frontier and through the Industrial Revolution. He presents a complex American region from an insider’s viewpoint, and he takes you beyond Appalachian stereotypes of poverty, backwardness, and isolation. With food, he touches the debate of the American dream, and he is firmly on the side of family, diversity, freedom, and self-actualization. He shows that mountaineers are wise in their use of resources and sophisticated in their development of recipes. Their serving combinations and menus are as special as any ethnic cuisine. Both Sohn and The University Press of Kentucky are proud that  Appalachian Home Cooking showcases the Appalachia where people are creative, articulate, and sensitive.

Audience:

  • Appalachians who live in or away from the region
  • Food scholars, chefs, and cooking professionals
  • High school and college students
  • Teachers
  • Appalachian studies students and professionals

Quick Facts About Appalachian Home Cooking:

  • Lists the top 10, 15, 25, and 100 Appalachian foods, page 5
  • Over 80 Appalachian recipes
  • 344 pages
  • Links eight British foods to Appalachia, page 10
  • Food related Appalachian poetry such as the “Grits-Lover’s Prayer” and “Soup Beans and Corn Bread”
  • 32 mail-order sources
  • 12 Appalachian food festivals
  • Glossary of terms
  • 32 full-color photographs of Appalachian food by Sohn
  • Appalachian menu suggestions for holidays and seasons
  • Food preservation methods
  • Lists and descriptions of mountain greens and nuts
  • Endorsements by Rick Bragg, John Shelton Reed, and John Egerton
  • Went into second printing in January, 2006

Biographical sketch:

Mark F. Sohn, PhD, is a food historian, columnist, and recipe developer. He is an authority on Appalachian food, having written on various aspects of the topic for six encyclopedias and taught Appalachian studies courses at Pikeville College. Sohn is the food section editor for The Encyclopedia of Appalachia, a project of the University of Tennessee Press, and his 1996 Appalachian cookbook, Mountain Country Cooking, received a James Beard Foundation nomination for Cookbook of the Year.

Sohn is also a food photographer, and his pictures have been shown in several art galleries. For 11 years he was the chef, host, and executive producer of Classic Home Cooking, a cable-access food television show seen in 50,000 homes, and for 16 years he wrote a weekly food column for the Appalachian News-Express, the newspaper that serves Pike County, Kentucky.Sohn teaches Appalachian cooking for the Pikeville College Community Education Program and the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. During the school year, he is a psychology professor at Pikeville (KY) College.

Media Questions:

  • Describe your new book, and is it a cookbook?
  • Can you talk briefly about the origins of Appalachian food?
  • What is it about this food that has held your interest these many years?
  • Talk about some of your favorite Appalachian recipes.
  • What inspired you to add the Appalachian Foodways section to the book?
  • What is your definition of the Appalachian region?
  • How have economic and political developments affected food traditions?
  • Tell us a bit about some of the Appalachian food festivals and special food events.
  • How did you become involved with Appalachian food?
  • Of the 32 photographs, which is your favorite and why?