Meet Ronni Lundy of Southern Foodways Alliance

Meet one of the founders of the SFA and preserver of Southern food culture.


My name is Ronni Lundy and I was born in Corbin, Kentucky, and I am a writer. You know, there are so many recipes that are important to the south that when you ask what recipe is most important, it's hard to make a choice. But because I'm from the mountain south, I'm gonna make a choice there. And, for those of us who grew up in the southern Appalachians, I think one of the most important recipes is apple stack cake. It's unusual, it's not made any other place. It's several layers of a molasses based kind of a short crust. And between those layers, you put cooked dried apples. Very little spices. Sometimes some people add a little bit of mace or cinnamon. And you do about eight of these narrow layers. You stack them up and then you wrap them up and you put them away. It's a very zen kind of recipe because after it's made you have to defer your gratification and you have to let it sit for like maybe three days. And then you cut into it and, I think it's beloved by people in the mountains because it's actually the taste of the mountains. Jerry Lundy. She was the daughter of a butcher and a grocer and of a woman, Iva Grinsted who she told me was the most extraordinary cook that she ever knew. I found that hard to believe because Jerry Lindy was the most extraordinary cook that anyone ever knew. And she made, every day from the contents of the pantry or the refrigerator or the garden, she created beauty and joy and put it on the table. And she made everyone welcome at her table. She always had enough on the table to feed whoever showed up and whoever was hungry. If she were here, I would make for her a big pot of speckled butter beans. I would cook them until they were tender and creamy. I would add half and half and a big glop of butter and salt and pepper. And I would make her a skillet of really hot fresh corn bread, and when it was already to go, I would fry up a little bit of bacon and get some really crisp fresh tart bitter lettuce and green onion and pour that bacon grease over it and add some vinegar add salt and pepper and toss it and give it to her. Then what she would do she would say her version of grace. Which is she would take a bite and say aw, this is so good. You know who I wish was here? And she would name every beloved person she knew who should be having a part of that meal. She's the most important person in Southern food to me.
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