066 – Ronni Lundy, Victuals


Writing Work. Victuals Love. Sorghum and Salt. Welcome to the third in a series of FOUR podcasts celebrating the Virginia Festival of the Book! From March 16th-19th you will hear from the country’s best and brightest when it comes to food writing. Today’s episode? Food writer Ronni Lundy whose newest creation, Victuals, is a celebration of Appalachian foodways, one ingredient at a time. Victuals just won the 2017 IACP award for American Cookbook of the Year and is a finalist for the James Beard award in American Cooking. Seed saver Bill Best has called Victuals, “The 67th book of the bible!” and I agree wholeheartedly. This volume is going all the way baby! Ronni will be appearing at three events as part of the festival, including a talk I’m moderating, “Save Room! Cookbooks With a Sweet Tooth!” Event details are listed below.

This episode is a re-airing of the lovely talk I had with Ronni at the tail end of the 2015 Appalachian Food Summit. Can you really get a sense of a region’s history through one ingredient? This food writer and Appalachia advocate knows you can. Her books, Victuals, and Sorghum’s Savor do just that. While both contain recipes, a good portion of the books talk about ingredient history, what each is and isn’t, and the fascinating stories behind the folks who bring that food 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 of salt. At the 2015 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 relate 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 spit shine. It’s time for a 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 the meal at the 2015 gathering 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 with great stories. Or as Ronni’s says, “A little sugar before your medicine.” Enjoy this episode then head out to all three events! See you there!



Ronni’s talk at the 2016 Appalachian Food Summit: The Magical Mammy & the Granny Woman: How Malinda Russell’s Journeys Break the Chains of Myth
Toni Tipton-Martin, author of the James Beard Award-winning, The Jemima Code and Ronni Lundy of Victuals discuss how exploring foodways can give voice to people and cultures otherwise ignored or misrepresented in history, and how that changes our ideas of where we come from and who we are.


Save Room! Cookbooks with a Sweet Tooth
Wed. March 22, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Barnes & Noble, Barracks Road Shopping Center, Charlottesville
Cookbook authors Sheri Castle (Rhubarb) and Ronni Lundy (Sorghum’s Savor) will discuss their work.

Cooking Demos
Thu. March 23, 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
The Charlottesville Cooking School, Meadowbrook Shopping Center, Charlottesville
Join Sheri Castle (Rhubarb), Shane Mitchell (Far Afield), and Ronni Lundy (Victuals), as they each give a cooking demonstration of recipes from their cookbooks.

Food Traditions and Women Chefs
Thu. March 23, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, 233 4th St NW, Charlottesville, Virginia
Join Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner), Shane Mitchell (Far Afield), and Ronni Lundy (Victuals) as they discuss traditional food and cooking methods and their experiences as female chefs.

SHOW NOTES – Links to resources talked about during the podcast:

This episode is sponsored by Teej.fm and listeners like you who donated their support at Patreon, who wants every creator in the world to achieve a sustainable income. Thank you.

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