Join us for an evening with Erica Abrams Locklear, in conversation with Virginia Willis, to discuss Locklear's new book Appalachia on the Table: Representing Mountain Food & People, which explores how long-held preconceptions about Appalachian foodways color our perception of the region and its people. Registration requested. This event will be held in the Fourth Floor Gallery of Decatur Library.
About the Book:
When her mother passed along a cookbook made and assembled by her grandmother, Erica Abrams Locklear thought she knew what to expect. But rather than finding a homemade cookbook full of apple stack cake, leather britches, pickled watermelon, or other “traditional” mountain recipes, 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. Where, Locklear wondered, did her Appalachian food script come from? And what implicit judgments had she made about her grandmother based on the foods she imagined she would have been interested in cooking?
Appalachia on the Table argues, in part, 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 and its people have often been used to socially categorize and stigmatize mountain people. Rather than investigate the actual foods consumed in Appalachia, Locklear instead focuses on the representations of foods consumed, implied moral judgments about those foods, and how those judgments shape reader perceptions of those depicted. The question at the core of Locklear’s analysis 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?
About the Author:
Erica Abrams Locklear is a professor of English and the Thomas Howerton Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the University of North Carolina Asheville. She is the author of Negotiating a Perilous Empowerment: Appalachian Women’s Literacies and is a seventh-generation Western North Carolinian.
About the Moderator:
Georgia-born French-trained chef Virginia Willis has foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and executed the food styling for a Super Bowl commercial seen by over 160 million people. She is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and chef for Food Network Kitchen. Beginning in 2019 Virginia lost 65 pounds and has kept if off for over 2 1/2 years. Her health journey has been documented in Eating Well, as a cover story for Woman’s World, Allrecipes, and AARP. Virginia has embraced her new outlook on life and has become a cheerleader for those wanting to make their own life changes, “If a French-trained Southern chef can do it, you can, too!” Her cookbooks include Fresh Start: Cooking with Virginia My Real Life Daily Guide to Healthy Eating and Weight Loss; Secrets of the Southern Table, Lighten Up, Y’all, Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Okra, and Grits. She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Alex vs America, The Rachel Ray Show, Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Virginia has also been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52. She has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Fans love her down-to-earth attitude and approachable spirit. Learn more about Virginia and follow her food, fun, and fitness at www.virginiawillis.com
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