Why not begin with the best?
If you are looking for a Southern Fusion “Food” book, this is it. This is not a cookbook, in any sense of the word, but a series of interlinked essays about food, Southern and otherwise. Naturally, there are recipes here, but the concept of the book lies in the subtitle: “A Year of Food Life.” It doesn’t hurt that it was written by one of the best writers around, Barbara Kingsolver, who really is a national treasure.
The premise is this: Kingsolver and family move back south from Arizona, after spending years in the Cadillac desert (check out the book with that title). Instead of her native Kentucky, she, her prof husband Steven Hopp, and her two daughters end up in the beautiful mountains of southwestern Virginia, on a large farm. What a sacrifice! Soon thereafter, they decide to conduct a year long experience of living as “locavores,” or people who eat primarily food that is grown locally, within a reasonably short distance from their home in Washington County, Virginia.
Not wanting to give away the entire contents of the book, I will add that Kingsolver goes to New England and the Midwest, and even manages to make it all the way to Italy, as part of her exploration of local food aficionados. It doesn’t get much more fusion than that.
Speaking of that, here is a weekly May menu, compiled for the book by daughter Camille Kingsolver:
Sunday~Grilled chicken, fresh bread, and a giant salad of fresh greens, carrots and peas
Monday~Asparagus and morel bread pudding
Tuesday~Asian summer rolls with spicy peanut sauce, served with rice
Wednesday~Vegetarian tacos with refried beans, pea shoots. lettuce, spring onions, and cheese
Thursday~Cheese ravioli tossed with stir fried spring vegetables, oregano, and olive oil
Friday~Chicken pizza with olives and feta
Saturday~Frittata packed with cheese and vegetables, salad, strawberry-rhubarb crisp
Applebee’s menu, this ain’t. I personally would like to be there for the Monday meal.
In short, this is as inspiring a food book as there is. It even ends with a completely fascinating chapter long examination of turkey production and reproduction, written after Kingsolver made herself an expert on the two subjects. I guess everyone has to be an expert on something, other than just winning one writing award after another.