Chris Muir's Day By Day

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sonkers?

"Sonkers, Grunts, Slumps and Crumbles."

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — The sonker has become my Moby Dick.

I came here to Surry County, where the cooking has Appalachian roots and the Blue Ridge Mountains are a short drive away, in search of the sonker. The dessert is baked nowhere else in the nation. But as I tried to get to the bottom of what makes a sonker a sonker, I realized that, as with so many country recipes, definitive answers are as elusive as that white whale.

A big, deep, soupy mess of warm fruit or soft sweet potato, the sonker was made to feed everyone who happened to be working at the farm on any given summer day. Like the many other players in the loose-knit team of dishes based on cooked fruit and bread, it began as a way to stretch fruit that was perhaps past its glory or make use of economical fillings like wild blackberries.

A big pan of sonker was easy to haul to the church supper or the event in the South known as the “covered dish.” It is less fussy than a traditional round pie, and easier to serve to a crowd.

At this point, the astute reader is probably thinking this sounds like a cobbler with a funny name. But what is a cobbler, really? Is it the freewheeling cousin of the crisp? The Southern answer to the thrifty New England brown Betty? A pan dowdy with integrity? A pie for lazy people?


Click the link to read the rest. Myself, I'd never heard of a sonker before now, so this qualifies as my "Learn Something New Every Day" for today.

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