Renee's Regional Reads

Beyond Jefferson’s Vines: The Evolution of Quality Wine in Virginia by Richard G. Leahy
Leahy explores the roots and growth of the Virginia wine industry, along with an insider’s tour of Virginia’s distinct wine regions.

Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay by Willam W. Warner. Introduction by John Barth.
This classic book tells the story of the blue crab’s special place in the ecological, economic and cultural life of the Chesapeake Bay region, poetically chronicling a part of the region’s essential identity that was already receding into history and nostalgia in the 1970s.

Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C. by Ashante M. Reese. Forward by Dara Cooper.
A journey through the interconnected issues that affect the food landscape in many low-income Black communities, through the words and experiences, both past and present, of residents of Washington, DC’s Deanwood neighborhood.

Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition by John Shields. Photographs by Jed Kirschbaum
Published in 2015, this book updates Shields’ companion cookbook to his PBS series of the same name with a new chapter on the region’s libations, primarily of the alcoholic kind, more online resources, and plenty of the down-to-earth Baltimore wit Shields is known for.

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift
Swift spends a year living on Tangier Island and offers up a clear-eyed view of the island’s future as its residents hold onto a culture formed over centuries of isolation in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay while the land itself is being steadily being erased by the effects of climate change.

Dishing Up Maryland: 150 Recipes from the Alleghenies to the Chesapeake Bay by Lucie L. Snodgrass. Foreword by John Shields. Photography by Edwin Remsberg
Celebrate the state’s signature flavors with recipes gathered from farmers and watermen, season by season.

Dishing Up Virginia: 145 Recipes That Celebrate Colonial Traditions and Contemporary Flavors by Patrick Evans-Hylton. Foreword by Marcel Desaulniers. Photography by Edwin Remsberg
Learn about the history and innovation of Virginia cooking through recipes that celebrate the state’s unique culinary regions.

Eat Local For Less: The Ultimate Guide to Opting Out of Our Broken Industrial Food System by Julie Castillo
Castillo is a Maryland-based writer and anthropology professor who shares her experience in this primer on shifting to a local eating lifestyle, with asides on the cultural history of food and eating.

Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm by Forrest Pritchard
This memoir from Forrest Pritchard of Smith Meadows Farm in Purcellville, Virginia, tells his story of coming back to a family farm on the verge of collapse in the 1990s and building it into a mainstay of the most successful farmers markets in the region. Gently humorous throughout, there are many laugh-out-loud moments that illustrate the challenges of selling food to local consumers.

Maryland Wine: A Full-Bodied History by Regina McCarthy
This slim volume recounts the history of the Maryland wine industry, brings to life local wine pioneers who influenced wine-making across the country, and explains how the industry organized and created a legislative approach that has opened the way for the growth that continues today.

My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today by Nora Pouillon
In this enlightening memoir, chef and restaurateur Nora Pouillon shares the story of her quest to open the city’s eyes to the farm bounty just outside its borders, launching the region’s local food movement.

Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat by Tanya Denckla Cobb. Foreword by Gary Paul Nabhan. Photo essays by Jason Houston
All of the case studies in this survey of local food initiatives around the country are interesting and inspiring, and it includes several examples of work being done in the Mid-Atlantic region, where the author is based.

Seafood Lover’s Chesapeake Bay: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions by Mary Lou Baker with Holly Smith
A compact survey of places to savor Chesapeake Bay seafood in Maryland along the Upper Bay, Eastern Shore, Western Shore and Southern Maryland, with entertaining lore and back stories.

The Chesapeake in Focus: Transforming the Natural World by Tom Pelton
The long-time Baltimore environmental reporter talks about the waters, the people, the wildlife, and the policies that define the current state of the region’s defining geographic feature, the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Table: Your Guide to Eating Local by Renee Brooks Catacalos
Practical advice, varied resources, and analysis of the roles everyone, including consumers, play in supporting local food and building a regional food system in the Mid-Atlantic states surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

The New Chesapeake Kitchen by John Shields. Photographs by David W. Harp
Published in 2018, this wonderful cookbook celebrates Chesapeake “Bay- and body-friendly” food. From crab dishes to seasonal soups, from local meats to fresh veggies and fruits, from canning to pickling, Shields includes it all, even some of his “secret” signature recipes.

The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine by Todd Kliman
This book is a deep dive into the Virginia wine world via the Norton grape, a native variety that oenophiles either love or hate, and its most ardent promoter, Jenni McCloud of Chrysalis Vineyards.