I liked the “Appalachian Journey” travelogue part of Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes better than the recipes. I enjoyed reading about life in Appalachia, the origins of the various food found there (more varied than stereotyped) and the stories of the people who live there. It really fleshed out a region of the country that frequently gets lumped together as some hillbilly backwater and showed the people and the cuisine to be quite varied. I enjoyed reading about the origins of some regional foods like pepperoni roll or chili bun which one rarely sees outside of West Virginia. The stories of people who make their homes there and who run restaurants in the area were very interesting as well.
The recipes, however, held little interest. A lot of them were jazzed up versions of the originals and I much would have preferred to have seen good versions of the actual dish than her “improvements” and tweaks. I understand she was trying to blend the new and the old of Appalachia but I would have preferred more of the historical foods, not the hipster updates (miso banana bread anyone?). The rest of the recipes were for food I either already had good recipes for (pickles, greens) or that just didn’t interest me.
The photographs of the area, the people and food are all beautiful and the book is well worth a read, I just can’t see myself ever cooking anything from it.