Appalachia on the Table
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Appalachia on the Table

Representing Mountain Food and People

Title Details

Pages: 242

Illustrations: 10 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 04/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6339-4

List Price: $29.95


Pub Date: 04/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6338-7

List Price: $29.95


Pub Date: 04/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6337-0

List Price: $29.95


Pub Date: 04/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6340-0

List Price: $114.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Bradley Hale Fund for Southern Studies

Appalachia on the Table

Representing Mountain Food and People

How do long-held preconceptions about Appalachian foodways color our perception of the region and its people?

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

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?

Appalachia on the Table encourages readers to challenge the optimistic view of ramps on the menu at high-end restaurants just as Locklear leads us through the damage of earlier works that portrayed Appalachian food as inedible and low quality. While this is a book about food and representation, it is also a history and a cultural analysis that uses food to read a region.

—Meredith McCarroll, author of Unwhite: Appalachia, Race, and Film

Appalachia on the Table makes an important contribution to the fields of food studies, food history, American studies, and Southern studies. I am certainly eager to assign it in my food history and intro to food studies courses.

—Megan J. Elias, director of the Gastronomy Program and associate professor at Boston University

Erica Abrams Locklear. . . has become one of the preeminent voices in Appalachian literature, history, and culture.

—Wiley Cash, Garden and Gun

Appalachia on the Table is an extremely readable exploration of how mountain food has been represented historically and how those representations interact with present day food trends in the region and beyond. . . . People from the region, who may have also been surprised by a grandmother’s cookbook, will enjoy Locklear’s personal connections and thoughtful consideration of the region, and folks who have vacationed in Appalachia and enjoyed some of the foods Locklear references can now trace those foods back through the food’s cultural history.

—Jessi Rae Morton, Southern Review of Books

Appalachia on the Table is not a cookbook, nor is it a study of food. Abrams Locklear’s mission is uncovering the history of our perceptions of Appalachia and its people through how we perceive its food. . . . The result is not only an important contribution to cultural studies, it is an endlessly readable journey into culinary conversations.

—Wiley Cash, The Assembly

"Through deep investigations of historical records and texts, Abrams Locklear uncovers the source of the internalized shame that Appalachian people feel around their cultural stigma, and she challenges that preconceived attitude. In the end, we learn that Appalachian foodways are complex, delicious, and as diverse as the region itself."

—Jonnah Perkins, Civil Eats

"Cuisine once deemed coarse is now haute,” Locklear writes, but she also notes that perceptions of mountain people haven’t caught up. If we are truly what we eat, then Appalachians are as complex as the food of their rugged land.

—C.A. Carlson, Our State

I was immediately drawn to this work. Locklear seamlessly weaves personal narrative, historical and cultural analysis, in a fascinating study about the connection between literature/popular discourse, food and the region. Brilliant application to multiple fields including Appalachian studies, literary studies, and food studies.

—E. Gale Greenlee, writer/editor and an independent literary and Black Girlhood Studies scholar

Like a good cookbook, the work is full of potential sustenance. . . . This food tour is also a tour of history, including the history of Appalachian Studies. The focus on food offers particular insight into women’s lives, since they, like Locklear’s grandmother, typically played lead roles in growing, preserving, procuring, preparing, and serving foods.

—Kathryn Newfont, associate professor of history, University of Kentucky, past president of ASA


Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, Western North Carolina Historical Association


Weatherford Award, Appalachian Studies Association

About the Author/Editor

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.