“I have always said my weakness is food, sex, and music… but not necessarily in that order,” Dolly Parton, patron saint of Appalachia, wrote in her book, Songteller.
The famous country singer-songwriter explores those themes in her songs, all while weaving in her experiences in Appalachia, growing up with 11 siblings in a one-room cabin.
“Coat of Many Colors” and “My Tennessee Mountain Home” are written about her childhood in rural Tennessee. “I think my voice is best suited for the old mountain style and the bluegrass. I guess it's just 'cause I feel that so much,” she has said.
Songs like “Jolene” and “Touch Your Woman” are sexy, intimate, and passionate. The latter was even banned from the radio for some time for being too explicit.
As for food, Parton sings about eating a stale sweet roll in “Down on Music Row” and wrote “Two Doors Down” about fried clams. She has said she likely enjoyed comforting food like mashed potatoes or mac & cheese after writing two of her biggest hits, “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You,” back-to-back.
Parton, an actress, philanthropist, and businesswoman, wrote a few cookbooks, one of which is called “Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s: Love, Laughter, and Lots of Good Food.” The book features her personal collection of southern recipes, including her famous banana pudding, which is even used in her theme park, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Many of the book’s recipes were passed down to Parton from her mother and mother-in-law. It also includes recipes for dishes from some of her favorite restaurants she has discovered while traveling the world performing.
One of the recipes in her book is “Chicken and Dumplins,” which she proclaims to be her favorite Sunday supper. There are recipes for fried green tomatoes, gristmill cinnamon bread, walnut pie and more.
"I still like to try new foods as often as I can. But when it comes to cooking for myself and my husband Carl and my great big extended family, which numbers into the multiple hundreds these days, what we really want to eat is what comforts us most: good, hearty food rooted in Mama’s cooking and those country gatherings of my childhood. It’s the food from those Mom and Pop joints that welcome you in as if you’re family. We really just want food that is lovingly made and joyfully served up. Around here, that’s what we call Dixie Fixin’s,” she wrote in her cookbook.
She has also partnered with Duncan Hines to bring some of her recipes from the cookbook into our home kitchens. The dynamic duo has released a collection of cake mixes, frostings, and, most recently, savory mixes inspired by her favorite southern recipes:
● Sweet Cornbread & Muffin Mix: Moist and buttery, this features Dolly’s favorite recipe for Jalapeño Cornbread right on the packaging.
● Buttermilk Biscuit Mix: Made with real buttermilk, this mix features one of Dolly’s favorite recipes for Cheddar and Chive Biscuits on the box.
● Caramel Turtle Brownie Mix: A sweet way to level up Dolly’s famously delicious dessert, with an on-pack recipe for Dolly’s favorite Peanut Butter Brownie Skillet Sundae.
● Fabulously Fudgy Brownie Mix: Perfectly chewy and chocolatey, the box features a recipe for Dolly’s favorite Pecan Brownies.
● Southern Style Banana Flavored Cake Mix: This mix can be used for a decadent banana dessert. Her Southern Style Banana Cake Recipe is on the box.
● Southern Style Coconut Flavored Cake Mix: Dolly’s Southern Style Coconut Cake Recipe is on the box, which pairs well with...
● Creamy Buttercream Flavored Frosting: Dolly Parton's Favorite Creamy Buttercream Flavored Cake Frosting adds a creamy touch to treats.
● Creamy Chocolate Buttercream Flavored Frosting: Chocolate Buttercream Flavored Cake Frosting sweetens up creations.
The queen of Appalachia has a decades-long career spanning various industries and subjects, yet she has remained relatable and down-to-earth despite her rise to fame.
She often speaks to the disenfranchised through her work and brings people from all walks of life together. Food is just one more vehicle Parton has used to connect to her communities - whether through personal recipes or sharing culinary foundations for people to put their spin on.
This, among many other reasons, is why Dolly Parton is more than just a cultural icon to Appalachia - she is an authentic, deep-rooted queen who proudly represents the region.
Dolly Parton’s Banana Pudding Recipe
● 3 eggs, separated
● 1 cup sugar
● 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
● 2 cups milk
● Dash of salt
● 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) butter
● 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
● 1 (12-ounce) box of vanilla wafers
● 5-6 bananas, sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
2. Lightly beat the egg yolks. Combine 3⁄4 cup of sugar and the flour in a medium pot. Gradually stir in the milk, followed by the egg yolks and salt. Cook over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove the pot from the heat and add the butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly. Arrange half of the wafers on the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish. Top with half of the banana slices. Spoon half of the pudding mixture over the bananas. Repeat with remaining wafers, bananas, and pudding.
3. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until they form stiff peaks. Spread with a rubber spatula over the pudding, sealing the edges. Bake until the topping is light golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve cooled.