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Big Jones Celebrates Appalachian Cuisine With ‘Champion’ Author

 Author Ronni Lundy will be honored at Big Jones restaurant on April 21. Author Ronni Lundy will be honored at Big Jones restaurant on April 21. View Full Caption
Big Jones/Ronni Lundy

ANDERSONVILLE — Big Jones restaurant will take a journey through southern Appalachia with an author dinner featuring Ronni Lundy.

From 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Big Jones Executive Chef Paul Fehribach and his crew will honor Lundy by preparing recipes from her new book “Victuals: An Appalachian Journey with Recipes” at the restaurant, 5347 N. Clark St.

Lundy will also tell stories from the book and autograph copies for diners while documentaries and mountain music play in the background.

The Kentucky-born writer has written extensively about southern food and music and describes herself as a chronicler of the “hillbilly diaspora.” She’s been described as “perhaps the best-known champion of Appalachian foodways.”

Goodreads gave her book 4.25 starts out five, praising it as a guide “through the surprisingly diverse history — and vibrant present — of food in the Mountain South.”

Of “Victuals,” critic Donna Desfor wrote: “In the end, it’s not the recipes that endear you to the southern Appalachia people and culture or make you want to cook — it’s Lundy’s story-telling magic weaving these people and their lives into a cookbook.”

The Big Jones dinner will benefit Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization based at the University of Mississippi that documents southern food and seeks to explain it in the context of the culture of the region.

In an interview with Appalachian Heritage magazine, Lundy said Appalachian food has traditionally been dismissed, describing it as “a way for the outside world to signify that because the people in the mountains eat trash, they are trash and can therefore be judged, exploited and/or denigrated.”

But, she adds, there has been a rising interest in the cuisine, in part, because “it tastes so incredibly good.”

Among the dishes at Thursday’s event will be pickled baloney, morels and ramps with quail eggs on toast, cabbage soup with black walnut pesto, and pork and kraut in cider gravy.

The full menu is available here.

The cost is $75 per person or $125 per couple and includes a signed copy of the book. For reservations, call 773-275-5725.

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