Asheville, simply put, is a kaleidoscope, and for the both of us, our home. With every step taken through the streets of downtown, it is impossible not to note the many different forms that the arts take—the multiple styles of architecture, the street music floating between the buildings, the countless murals, and the merchant artists, just to name a few. The beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway and the awe-inspiring Biltmore Estate have drawn people to Asheville for decades, because few other places in the world can boast that they make art feel alive like we can here. This mountain city is a truly unique place where the urban melds seamlessly into the rural; the city is beautiful and flawed and unique in that it is proud of both.
Arching over all of this, of course, is an incredibly strong sense of community. The people here are unafraid to stand up for each other, protecting the freedom of expression that makes Asheville so great. Especially downtown, any visitor can tell that the lines between art, nature, and city life are blurred to the extent that they can no longer be separated. The residents thrive on it, saturating the city with welcoming laughter which tourists often can’t help but join.
In our studies with the cookbooks, we understand now how not just the sharing of food, but the recording of recipes helps create the connections and atmosphere that we see in Asheville. Food is more than sustenance, it is an expression of love, family, and culture-especially here in the South. In order to expand our project and fully connect ourselves to that we studied, we decided that we wanted to examine the role of cookbooks and food in this unique community. Our city possesses a personality that shines through its buildings, its events, its environment, its people, and especially its food. We discovered that the cookbooks and staples of Southern Appalachia are more than just one part to a whole; they represent a culture in and of itself, and here we wanted to look at those same connections on a local, less abstract backdrop.
Photo Credits: Slideshow-Kinsey Danzis, 2017; Header-Kyle Noel, 2015.