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Appalachian meals are a regional comfort food

From holler to table

Panzanella is a classic Italian salad that revives day-old bread as a sort of crouton/filler combined with fresh, juicy tomatoes, onions, and basil.

It’s a concept Lora Smith, shown, adapts to make “a rustic mountain take” on Italian tradition. “I like it because it’s summery and light, but also has an unexpected regional comfort food taste to it with the familiar tang and crunch of the buttermilk and cornmeal combo.”

A Whitley County native who now lives and farms with her family in Jackson County, Lora helped create the Appalachian Food Summit Working Group on Facebook. The Appalachian Food Summit is holding its third annual meeting September 16–18 at Berea College, where they are anchored with Grow Appalachia. More information on the group and the event is at

Lora began focusing on the food of her home region when she was a community organizer in the coal fields there. A master’s degree in folklore gave her more academic background, but it was immersing in the culture that interested her. “There’s a long history of eating very, very locally in Appalachia,” she says. “I call it holler to table. It’s in a pivotal moment right now with an economic transition that is happening, and food and agriculture can be a part of that transition.”

Appalachian Panzanella

Cold Cucumber Soup

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