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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Shuck Beans, Stack Cake, and Chocolate Gravy: Food Traditions of the Mountain South

Evening Program with Book Signing and Tasting

Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1W0084
Sheri Castle (Photo: Briana Brough)

For early settlers of the isolated Appalachian Mountain region, steep terrain, a growing season as brief as New England’s, and formidable winters presented a challenge unique in the South. It wasn’t how to maximize a limited harvest: It was how to make it last through the year.

Drawing on a culinary history that blends Native American, German, English, and Scots-Irish traditions, mountain people responded by becoming masters of creative and delicious food preservation, distinguishing themselves as without peer in smoking, drying, pickling, and canning.

Food writer and cooking teacher Sheri Castle, who hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, explores the rich history and heritage of the foodways of the Mountain South, a region whose cuisine—long overlooked or misunderstood—is riding the wave of new attention.

She looks at the wide variety of dishes that make use of quintessential mountain foodstuffs including corn, beans, wild greens, potatoes, sorghum, apples, biscuits, game, and freshwater fish. She introduces iconic Appalachian foods such as leather britches beans, dried-apple stack cake, chocolate gravy, candy roaster squash, and righteous skillet cornbread.  

Afterward, get a taste of some authentic mountain dishes. Castle’s book, The New Southern Garden Cookbook, is available for purchase and signing.

Other Connections

Sheri Castle—who holds the distinction of reading every Southern Living recipe from 1966 to 2014—is recognized as a leading authority on Southern and Appalachian cuisine. Watch as she discusses regional differences in Southern food and prepares chile relleno squares. Learn what Castle considers the seven essential Southern dishes, and try your hand at her recipes for them.


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)