Fried Apple Pie Making
Rocky Mount, Virginia
Known as “Fried Apple Pies,” “Dried Apple Pies,” or even
Known as “Fried Apple Pies,” “Dried Apple Pies,” or even “Fried Dried Apple Pies,” these locally made pies seem to have a ubiquitous presence throughout Southwest Virginia, appearing on the counters and shelves of country stores, gas stations, and community festivals. The defining characteristic of the pie is its intense flavor, accomplished through the use of dried apples rehydrated through a long simmering process with brown sugar. While each community likely stakes a claim for one of its local pie makers, Frances Davis, of Rocky Mount, takes the title as the ultimate “Fried Apple Pie Lady.” Her delicious fried-dough pies have been featured at festivals around the state, including the National Folk Festival.
Frances was one of six children born to a sharecropping family. She learned to cook from her mother, and by the age of twelve was responsible for cooking for her entire family, as well as caring for other children too young to go to the fields. “I had to get up each morning around four, get the fire started to heat the house, and then be sure to have three full meals ready when the grownups came in from the field. Honestly, I didn’t really have a life as a child, because I had a big responsibility.” This responsibility led Frances to become one of the most respected and creative home chefs in the region. “You had to be very resourceful,” she told us. “You had to learn to work with what you had.”