Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: Eating Appalachia by Darrin Nordahl!

Title: Eating Appalachia: Rediscovering Regional American Flavors
Author: Darrin Nordahl
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: June 1st 2015
Source: Chicago Review Press

Book Description via Goodreads:

Dozens of indigenous fruits, vegetables, nuts, and game animals are waiting to be rediscovered by American epicures, and Appalachia stocks the largest pantry with an abundance of delectable flavors. In Eating Appalachia, Darrin Nordahl looks at the unique foods that are native to the region, including pawpaws, ramps, hickory nuts, American persimmons, and elk, and offers delicious and award-winning recipes for each ingredient, along with sumptuous color photographs. The twenty-three recipes include: Pawpaw Panna Cotta, Pawpaw Whiskey Sour, Chianti-Braised Elk Stew, Pan-Fried Squirrel with Squirrel Gravy, Ramp Linguine, and Wild Ginger Poached Pears, among others. Nordahl also examines some of the business, governmental, and ecological issues that keep these wild, and arguably tastier, foods from reaching our tables.

Eating Appalachia profiles local chefs, hunters, and locavores who champion these native ingredients and describes food festivals—like the Pawpaw Festival in Albany, Ohio; the Feast of the Ramson in Richwood, West Virginia; and Elk Night at Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, Kentucky—that celebrate them.



It's no secret by this point that I love food. I especially love learning about American cuisines, and the Appalachian region is one that I knew next to nothing about. Thanks to Eating Appalachia I can proudly say I learned a lot more!

I should start out by saying that this book isn't a cookbook. It does feature some recipes, but it is way more informative about the region and the local ingredients than it is a list of things to make. This is more for those who are interested in immersing themselves completely by studying, learning, and cooking all at the same time.

The book starts with a handy dandy little map of what is considered to be "Appalachia" as well as a pretty lengthy introduction to American ingredients. It's divided into sections: Albany, Ohio; Richwood, West Virginia; Prestonburg, Kentucky; Cairo, West Virginia; Cherokee, North Carolina; Colfax, North Carolina, and the epilogue.

This book is really vibrant. That is, each section is filled with nice little stories about life in that particular area of the United States. There's also a ton of information about some ingredients that are used here in the USA but are not necessarily well known about. For example, I learned a lot about the pawpaw fruit, which to be honest I only knew about from "The Jungle Book" cartoon. I really learned a lot more than I expected, which is pretty cool.

Each recipe that is included has a little description. The preparations are pretty short, and are written in paragraphs instead of steps which I imagine could get a bit confusing after awhile. This book doesn't just include recipes for food, but drinks such as "Pawpaw Whiskey Sours" as well. I really liked that drinks were included. There's also plenty of pictures!

Some of the recipes that I'd most like to try include Pan-Fried Squirrel with Squirrel Gravy, Chianti-Braised Elk Stew, and Seared Scallops in a Pawpaw Buerre Blanc.

I'd recommend this to food lovers, those looking for a slice of Americana, or just looking for a few unique recipes.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.


  1. This sounds like a fantastic book to read, I'd love to try that pan-fried squirrel (hey, if it's good enough for Katniss...) and the elk stew too.