Monday, November 21

Cornbread Nation 3 HOT OUT OF THE SKILLET!

Pick up your copy today. Heck, buy three.

For those who missed Fred Sauceman's remarks on Cornbread Nation 3 at the Southern Foodways Symposium, you may enjoy the edited version here:

Editor Ronni Lundy and Mary Beth Lasseter deserve our highest praise and congratulations for creating this book. As we say in the mountains, they did right by us. They did us proud. Book editors and national television producers haven't always accomplished that.

Ronni writes in the introduction to Cornbread Nation 3 that she came to understand, in a book written by our bean man, one of our Ruth Fertel Keepers of the Flame, Bill Best, why mountain ways have persistently been translated in pejorative terms in the larger American culture. To quote Ronni directly:

For the last century and then some, the culture of America at large has been a culture of things. From its onset, the culture of the Southern mountains has been one of connection. Being intangible, the treasures of the latter are virtually invisible to the citizens of the former. Consequently, a life focused on fostering connection, as opposed to acquisition, might seem to the dominant culture, at best, quaint and anachronistic, at worst, ridiculous and perverse.

In other words, if you value a person most in terms of the number of things he or she has-cars, Cuisinarts, face lifts, cell phones-you will not value a person who has few things but is, instead, rich only in connection. If you see time as well spent only when it is spent in pursuit of things, you will see time as wasted when it is spent instead nurturing connection.

In the mountain South, the green bean is the center of a network of amazingly complex connections. Beans are grown for nourishment, so the favored varieties have plump pods that are allowed to fill out with protein-rich seeds. The time it takes to simmer these, slow and low on a back burner, can be spent outside by cooks who are as connected to the earth and their garden as they are to the stove.

These beans are bred for flavors and textures so idiosyncratic that Bill Best has acquired some 200 seeds of distinctly different characteristics. Mountain people name their homegrown varieties of green beans; some are linked to specific families, some belong to communities, some have names that suggest poetry or stories: Lazy Wife, Roan Mountain, Tobacco Worm.

This is not humdrum food writing. This, friends, is the real stuff. Cornbread Nation 3, it's what your friends want to find in their stockings.