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A Love Affair with Southern Cooking: Recipes…
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A Love Affair with Southern Cooking: Recipes and Recollections

by Jean Anderson

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A charming read for its reminiscences of Southern food and descriptions of food history, and well as filled with good, cookable recipes. Anderson is serious about both food and Southern food, and she knows what she's doing.

A caveat: Although I adore this book for its content, but I do have two problems with it: no photographs at all, and a production design that looks like the menu for Buckaroo Bob's Steak House. I hope this book is hugely successful and that in future editions it will be re-designed, with a more graceful layout and with photos.
1 vote Winter_Maiden | Aug 7, 2009 |
Like most transplanted Yankees, I have a collection of personal stories I like to tell about how I became acclimated to living in the South. I talk about my shock when I discovered the word barbecue didn’t refer to chicken or ribs, my gradual acceptance of sweet tea as our national drink, the day I found myself hunting for Duke’s mayonnaise in the supermarkets up north when I visited my parents. I tell funny stories about my horror when faced with the Southern idea of “chicken and pastry,” and I can document how my vocabulary has changed over time—how the pop I used to buy when I was growing up in Buffalo became “soda” when I moved to Boston for college, and has become “coke” now that I am permanently situated in the Bible belt. It is basically a series of stories that chronicles one woman’s slow immersion into a foreign culture.

A Love Affair with Southern Cooking (Morrow, $32.50), Jean Anderson’s new cookbook/memoir/foodie celebration/compendium of trivia is very much in the same mold. It is a chronicle of one woman’s discovery of an entirely new cuisine and culture. A cuisine she converted to with all the enthusiasm of the born-again. Mind you, when I came south and first ate shrimp and grits, I was about 30. When Jean Anderson first discovered what it meant to be “Southern fried and sanctified” she was about five. So she’s had a bit longer to get used to the idea of mini marshmallows in her sweet potato casserole than I have.

The book is exactly what its title suggests—a paean to all the wonderful foods the author grew up eating in defiance of her midwestern mother’s ever more feeble objections. Anderson, who has a long and varied career as a food critic, journalist, agricultural extension worker, and most recently “recipe doctor,” gathers together in this unusual and diverting cookbook about two hundred different recipes that range from the classic (“Nana’s Lima Beans”) to the weird (“Pine Bark Stew,” which is not nearly as awful as it sounds and does not contain any actual pine bark). Recipes are usually accompanied by stories—either stories of where she first ate the dish or where the dish was first historically served—whichever, frankly, sounds better in the telling. Among the recipes are vignette histories of famous Southern foods—Moon Pies and Krispy Kreme Donuts, but also Planters Peanuts and Maxwell House Coffee, the latter an item many Southerners don’t like to brag about. And if this weren’t enough, she fills any leftover space on the page with food quotes and an extended timeline of important Southern foodie moments—from the time Ponce de Leon first set foot on the Florida peninsula (and presumably started looking for something to eat) to the celebrated re-opening of George Washington’s plantation still earlier this year. . .read the full review
  southernbooklady | Nov 26, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060761784, Hardcover)

More than a cookbook, this is the story of how a little girl, born in the South of Yankee parents, fell in love with southern cooking at the age of five. And a bite of brown sugar pie was all it took.

"I shamelessly wangled supper invitations from my playmates," Anderson admits. "But I was on a voyage of discovery, and back then iron-skillet corn bread seemed more exotic than my mom's Boston brown bread and yellow squash pudding more appealing than mashed parsnips."

After college up north, Anderson worked in rural North Carolina as an assistant home demonstration agent, scarfing good country cooking seven days a week: crispy "battered" chicken, salt-rising bread, wild persimmon pudding, Jerusalem artichoke pickles, Japanese fruitcake. Later, as a New York City magazine editor, then a freelancer, Anderson covered the South, interviewing cooks and chefs, sampling local specialties, and scribbling notebooks full of recipes.

Now, at long last, Anderson shares her lifelong exploration of the South's culinary heritage and not only introduces the characters she met en route but also those men and women who helped shape America's most distinctive regional cuisine—people like Thomas Jefferson, Mary Randolph, George Washington Carver, Eugenia Duke, and Colonel Harlan Sanders.

Anderson gives us the backstories on such beloved Southern brands as Pepsi-Cola, Jack Daniel's, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, MoonPies, Maxwell House coffee, White Lily flour, and Tabasco sauce. She builds a time line of important southern food firsts—from Ponce de León's reconnaissance in the "Island of Florida" (1513) to the reactivation of George Washington's still at Mount Vernon (2007). For those who don't know a Chincoteague from a chinquapin, she adds a glossary of southern food terms and in a handy address book lists the best sources for stone-ground grits, country ham, sweet sorghum, boiled peanuts, and other hard-to-find southern foods.

Recipes? There are two hundred classic and contemporary, plain and fancy, familiar and unfamiliar, many appearing here for the first time. Each recipe carries a headnote—to introduce the cook whence it came, occasionally to share snippets of lore or back-stairs gossip, and often to explain such colorful recipe names as Pine Bark Stew, Chicken Bog, and Surry County Sonker.

Add them all up and what have you got? One lip-smackin' southern feast!

A Love Affair with Southern Cooking is the winner of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Book Award, in the Americana category.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:49 -0400)

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