Foodways of Southern Appalachia celebrated in new book The Place Setting03.28.2006
JOHNSON CITY-The chili-slathered pork chop sandwich fried at a North Carolina fast food joint dating to the 1920s, a fall family reunion around a kettle of cushaw butter, and the art of barbecuing fresh ham in a Tennessee hollow are among the subjects covered in Fred Sauceman's new book of essays, The Place Setting: Timeless Tastes of the Mountain South, from Bright Hope to Frog Level.
The first of two volumes just published by Mercer University Press in Macon, Ga., The Place Setting chronicles Sauceman's "highly personal journey, with plenty of loafing stops along the way, through the hills and hollows of Southern Appalachia, in search of the tastes that define and sustain the region's people."
Leaving national chain restaurants behind, Sauceman invites readers along on an exploration of Southern foodways, places that are simply synonymous with good food, and small dining venues where the fare and the lore are so rich and varied that you can "learn pimento cheese techniques from octogenarian pharmacists, eat gas station pizza off a warm car hood, and revel in the simple but ingenious concoction called 'Beans All the Way.'"
Pat Conroy, author of The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, says, "I loved every word of this book. I was particularly taken with the history of sorghum, tilapia being the fish that the Lord multiplied, country ham prosciutto as good as that found in Parma, the new Southern cheesemakers, mountain morels, ramp festivals, and the Carter Family recipe for chow-chow. Books like this one always feel like they grew out of the land, like a crop." And, Adriana Trigiani, author of the Big Stone Gap series, writes, "It contains page after page of mouthwatering food set among some of the funniest and most fabulous stories you'll ever read about places you will never forget."
A second serving is "on the stove" and that volume will recount the lives of three early television cooks, recall a legendary hot dog vendor who ran for president, and profile the most colorful and controversial grocer in the history of Southern Appalachia, known for luring customers by pitching chickens off store roofs.
A native of Greeneville, Tenn., Sauceman is senior writer and executive assistant to the president for public affairs at East Tennessee State University, and he teaches courses in the foodways of Appalachia. His weekly food column appears in the Kingsport Times-News and he is a contributor to Marquee magazine. A member of the Board of Directors of the University of Mississippi's Southern Foodways Alliance, Sauceman also serves as a regular commentator on "Inside Appalachia," which is produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
For further information, contact Sauceman at 423-439-7979 or Email