019 – Ronni Lundy, Sorghum’s Savor
Part of the Appalachian Food Summit Series.
Part 1 of 4.
Can you really get a sense of a region’s history through one ingredient? Food writer and Appalachia advocate Ronni Lundy knows you can. Her book, Sorghum’s Savor does just that. While it contains recipes, a good portion of the book talks about sorghum’s history, what it is and isn’t, and the fascinating stories behind the folks who bring it to your table.
As one of the founders of the Appalachian Food Summit, Ronni knows such stories are integral to understanding the evolution of a culture. Which is why we begin this episode’s discussion around the history behind another ingredient, salt. At this year’s gathering we were fortunate enough to have Nancy Bruns of JQ Dickinson Salt Works, a 7th generation salt farmer. Nancy considers salt an agricultural ingredient because in her words it is harvested from the ground and ripened by the sun. The history and evolution of this ingredient relates well to Appalachia’s history as a land of extraction, as well as providing a base camp for all sorts of stories and anecdotes related to its history, harvest, and use.
Appalachia is a storytelling culture, and Ronni deftly uses this to incorporate important lessons into her tales. Because the purpose of the summit is to not only preserve, but to move Appalachia into the growing, abundant, thriving, economically and environmentally productive region we all know it can be. It’s an heirloom that just needs a little spitshine. It’s time for revival.
The fellowship from food gatherings is one of the hallmarks of Appalachia. Food as communion. Food as revival. Not food as performance where chefs come out after sweating their butts off in a kitchen just to receive a smattering of applause. There’s a reason people crave the homemade meals from their upbringing. Food grown from heritage seeds taste better, keep longer, are better for the environment, and preserve history.
We discuss The Appalachian Food Summit, its goals, and how Facebook helped get it started, Why was it important to serve this meal cafeteria style? What exactly does Chef Travis Milton mean when he called this dinner a “fancy-ass Picadilly”?*
You’re in for a treat guys. Ronni Lundy is a kick-ass broad. You’re going to learn a lot. But these lessons are mixed in through great stories. Or as Ronni’s says, “A little sugar before your medicine.” Enjoy!
This episode is sponsored by In A Flash Laser Engraving.
*Look for his interview in Episode 21, up October 16th.
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