A Most Southern Cookbook

This is post is inspired by the latest post from my favorite food blogger, a scrumptious breakfast sandwich she came up with after perusing this book:

I think this book has been on my bookshelf for about ten years, but it may be closer to fifteen. When I found it, I didn’t know that Edna Lewis was a legend in the southern culinary world. I haven’t purchased any of her other books, but it definitely on my to-do list.

Besides the fact that my roots are Georgian and Louisianan, the thing that most draws me to southern cooking is that it’s the closest thing to a uniquely American food tradition, in the way that jazz is a uniquely American art form.

Southern cooking was born of southern poverty, from people both black and white, who took using the scraps and raised it to a culinary art form. There are some southern dishes I simply won’t eat, such as chitterlings (pronounced “chit’lins” by Southerners) or blood sausage, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

That my children have embraced southern cooking pleases me. It’s not often that younger generations are interested in the traditions of the prior generations. Of course, over time, we’ve switched to healthier versions of the dishes we love. I don’t use shortening for just about anything, for example. Well, at least not until Thanksgiving and Christmas. Making a pie crust with what produces the flakiest crust once or twice a year isn’t gonna kill us, after all.

Edna Lewis’s dedication to wholesome ingredients and food made from scratch was a thing long before the clean eating movement was born. She was, as she was known, the grande dame of Southern cooking.

I don’t use cookbooks very often, but some books are worth keeping for the legacy they impart. The Gift of Southern Cooking is one of those books.

5 thoughts on “A Most Southern Cookbook

  1. Bike Bubba says:

    I’ve always been struck by the similarities of country midwestern food and southern cooking–the differences being significantly that the South seems to have things down a little better simply because the “sense of place and tradition” is so much stronger there.

    I like the suggestion of cornmeal in biscuits to reduce the gluten–I’ve had good luck with soft flour (e.g. White Lily), and have even tried about a third rye flour for them. Yeah, I’ve made pumpernickel biscuits, call me weird.

    Like

  2. Bike Bubba says:

    They were pretty good–different, but good. What do you do when you’re out of low protein flour? (OK, besides cornmeal, cornstarch…….)

    I’m also reminded, reading the other site, of how my mom learned to interact with the southern/soul food tradition while working at a hospital used by many blacks. She learned that many could drink real (not cultured) buttermilk who were otherwise lactose intolerant, and that many needed to be taught that the weight that Grandma/Grandpa had lost in the cardiac ward was a good thing, and that their loved one needed many things, but huge plates of traditional foods brought into the hospital were not among them. (“keep the collard greens, lose the bacon, sorry!”)

    Liked by 2 people

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