Local man’s culinary book published

Published 11:14 pm Monday, April 15, 2013

A former Suffolk resident and food author will hold a book signing next week for his newest work, “Dishing Up Virginia.”

Patrick Evans-Hylton will sign copies of the 288-page book at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News on April 25. The event will also include a talk and recipe-tasting involving a dozen local chefs.



The full-color book includes 145 recipes that celebrate Virginia traditions, flavors and native foods.

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“This is really kind of my love letter to the food and foodways of Virginia,” Evans-Hylton said. “I’ve largely written about food and foodways across the state going on 20 years now. This cumulates everything for me.”

Evans-Hylton said he wanted to highlight the many uses of Virginia foods.

“I want people to think about these foods we are very familiar with, but think about them in new and creative uses,” Evans-Hylton said. “These recipes are for home cooks. Some might be a little more advanced than others, but these are all very approachable ingredients.”

Several pages are dedicated to Suffolk’s favorite legume. A narrative that accompanies the peanut recipes mentions Amedeo Obici, founder of Planters Peanuts.

“I had to write about that because of not only my love for Suffolk but also my love for peanuts as well,” Evans-Hylton said. “I wanted to pay homage to the peanut and all the hardworking people who have either owned the peanut fields or worked in the peanut fields and made that the culinary calling card of Suffolk.”

The book is divided up into five regions because each region has its own flavors, he said.

“It really did all start here in Hampton Roads with the first landing in 1607,” he said. The first written food review in America was two days later, when one of the settlers wrote about roasted Lynnhaven oysters.

“We really are America’s first food region,” he said.

But no matter what region of Virginia you’re in, there’s one thing that never changes.

“One of the most striking things about Virginia continues to be its hospitality,” Evans-Hylton said. “Doing the research reinforced the fact food is all about fellowship. Food is really about breaking bread with family and friends.”

Evans-Hylton said he hopes people will not only cook with the recipes but also learn to appreciate Virginia’s food.

“I hope that folks really take away a sense of how important it is to honor all these foods,” he said. “We start recognizing what a very special place, culinarily, we live in.”

The book can be found at online and brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Tickets to the April 25 event, which lasts from 6 to 8:30 p.m., are $25. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.marinersmuseum.org.