"I'm proud to be an American, but I'm even prouder to be a Kentuckian."
A native of Richmond, graduate of Centre College, and a former resident of Louisville's Butchertown neighborhood, Sarah Baird's Commonwealth spirit is on full display in her new book Kentucky Sweets: Bourbon Balls, Spoonbread & Mile High Pie. Though she now lives in New Orleans, Sarah is travelling back to the Bluegrass to throw a kick-ass Kentucky party – she's holding her book release on February 8th at 7:30pm at Lexington's Institute 193.
As Sarah proudly describes herself, "I am the biggest horn-tooting, self-identifying Kentuckian around, and love to not only draw from my roots, but tell everyone else about it, too. As a writer, it's important to me that Kentucky stories – which are, undoubtedly, very colorful – are shared with a larger audience."
Her love of our fine Commonwealth goes beyond culinary treasures and expands across the whole of the culture. Sarah explains, "Kentucky is a constant source of inspiration – our history, culture, heck, even our topography – but most importantly, our people. There's something different, special, about Kentuckians: our fierce resolve and commitment to community is unlike anywhere else in the world, and we're able to do it all with a fun-loving twinkle in our eye."
As fun-loving as any Kentuckian, Sarah decided to make her new book about more than just cooking, combining recipes with culinary ethnography and the flair of a graphic novel – "It's definitely unlike any other cookbook out there today."
When Sarah talks about the inspiration for her book she always returns to family and her Kentucky roots, "Food is such a huge part of Kentucky culture, and it definitely is a family affair." Though she has been writing about Southern food and culture for quite some time, Sarah traces her affinity for Kentucky cooking back to her grandparents.
"My best memories are ones with my grandmother: making pimento cheese with her pimento cheese grinder, canning sweet pickles, and wreaking havoc on her kitchen trying to make transparent pies. My grandfather grew the very best tomatoes, and we were so devoted to them that when we went on family vacations, we'd take boxes and boxes of tomatoes with us so we wouldn't have to go without them."