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Former RSCC staffer’s book focuses on food in Appalachian kitchens

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“Buttermilk and Bible Burgers: More Stories from the Kitchens of Appalachia” is the latest book written by Fred Sauceman, a former Roane State Community College administrator.

Sauceman, now public relations director at East Tennessee State University, began his higher-education career at Roane State in 1980.

Featuring more than 60 stories and 99 photographs, the book is published by Mercer University Press in Macon, Ga.

Divided into three chapters, “The People,” “The Products” and “The Places,” the book ranges as far north as Coraopolis, Pa., and as far south as Birmingham, Ala. Most of the stories are centered in East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.

“‘Buttermilk and Bible Burgers’ confirms Fred Sauceman’s stature among the most insightful anthropologists of Appalachian folkways,” wrote Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors of “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen.”

“His culinary journeys in this volume yield fresh discoveries around every mountain pass. And Sauceman’s connections with people over food and memories — the voice of a native Hawaiian-turned-Tennessee karaoke legend, a visit with the oldest woman in the world, or his own childhood memory of just-gigged frogs — are so richly observed that we feel we’ve experienced the journey ourselves.”

In this latest collection, Sauceman guides readers through country kitchens and church fellowship halls, across pasture fields and into smokehouses, down rows of vegetable gardens at the peak of the season and alongside ponds resonant with the sounds of a summer night.

The scenes and subjects are oftentimes uniquely personal, and they combine to tell a love story, a chronicle of one person’s affection for a region and its people, its products and its places.

Sauceman celebrates the foodways and culture of his native Appalachia through books, magazine articles, newspaper columns, radio, television and documentary films.

His home base is the ETSU campus in Johnson City, where he teaches a fall course, The Foodways of Appalachia.

Sauceman is the longest-serving public relations director in ETSU’s history.

This is his fourth book to be published by Mercer University Press.