June 2017 Yarn Exchange Celebrates Sweet Recipes

SECRET RECIPES- A FAMILY TRADITION

Every family has at least one- that special, favorite dish that tastes like home. What is it about that food that makes it such a comfort? And why is comfort for one so different than comfort for others? Is it the ingredients? The hands that prepared it? The history behind it? All of these, or something else entirely? 

 

The food we eat tells a story- about place, history, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and religion.  The food we hunger for also tells a story- those cravings for a life we don’t yet have, but think about. 

 

The Jonesborough Yarn Exchange Radio Show this month is exploring the region’s cultural heritage through stories of food, and many surprises have been discovered in the process of creating this program. Through oral stories, oral histories, and historical accounts, a rich, diverse tale is being uncovered from these culinary traditions- a history that blends Scotch-Irish, African, Cherokee, and Italian roots- which are all traced through food. 

 

When many people think of Appalachian food and drink, a certain stereotype comes to mind, and it is true, that food is stereotyped just like people. The kind of food a group of people eats says something about them. Food is one of the cultural identifiers of a group. But, as with all stereotypical representations, it is not the only one. 

 

Not all Appalachians eat soup beans and cornbread, for instance, but when researching malinda russell cookbookAppalachian food and drink, those are the first examples provided. And while soup beans and corn bread is a staple in this region, the typical tastes and dishes are far more complex, reflecting the abundant contributions from the many cultural groups that have been in the region for hundreds of years. In fact, the very first Appalachian Cook Book, Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Recipes for the Kitchen, published in 1866, was written by a free black woman named Malinda Russell, who was born in Washington County in 1812 and raised in Greeneville. Contrary to cultural stereotypes about Appalachians and African Americans, the book’s primary recipes were that of baked goods and fine desserts, such as “floating island”, “rose cake”, “sweet onion custard”, and many puff pastry dishes- far from “poverty cooking” that is typically associated with this region. Malinda Russell’s story, which ends in a mystery that has yet to be solved, will be one of the tales told during this month’s radio show. 

 

In addition to these historical stories, other, more current tales will also be performed- stories of how food is traditionally used in building trust, such as that found in the World War II pilot’s story, who was stranded on an island after his plane went down, and was fed by locals until the rescue boat arrived a week later. Food is used for forgiveness, as found in Sydney Smallwood’s tale of his great grandmother, who baked bread for Union Soldiers during the Civil War. Food is used for showing love, such as in the “Newlywed Spam” story. And, in some hilarious instances, food is used to try to prove something, only to have it backfire, as found in Marcy Hawley’s Tuna Fish disaster story. 

 

These accounts and many more will be featured June 26, as the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange presents its show, “Secret Recipes”, a performance that is about much more than food- but about love, loss, mystery, resourcefulness, creativity, and comfort. The performance will be followed by a sample of regional sweets, cakes, pies, and cookies, in honor of Malinda Russell’s cookbook, honoring a history of fine desserts in Northeast Tennessee.

 

the magillsJoining the cast will be musical guests, The Magill’s, from Asheville, North Carolina, bringing their own flavor of music to the event.

 

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased through the Jonesborough Visitors Center, by calling 423-753-1010, or online at https://townofjonesborough.thundertix.com/events

 

For more information, contact Jules Corriere at 423-794-6320 or visit Yarn Exchange Radio Show on Facebook.  

 

Back to the Yarn Exchange page HERE

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 16:38

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