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Taste of Country Cooking Paperback – May 12, 1976

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The recipes and reminiscences of the American country cooking Lewis grew up with some 50 years ago. A richly evocative memoir of a lost time and a practical guide to recovering its joys in your own kitchen.

About the Author

Edna Lewis died on February 6, 2006, at the age of eighty-nine. This commemorative edition contains a new preface from her editor, Judith Jones, and a foreword by Alice Waters. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (May 12, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394732154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394732152
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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103 of 104 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
`The Taste of Country Cooking' by Edna Lewis, in its 30th anniversary edition, prefaced by editor extraordinare, Judith Jones, and introduced by Alice Waters, is one of our more important national culinary documents. The one thing one wants to be aware of is that contrary to its superficial similarities to important culinary reference works by Judith Jones collaborators, Julia Child and Diane Kennedy, this book is not a reference for `southern' cooking technique. Rather, it is much more a personal testament on how Ms. Lewis' family cooked in Freetown in the Virginia Piedmont, founded by her freed slave grandparents. It is much more similar to other personal works such as Elizabeth Coblentz' `The Amish Cook' or Sallie Ann Robinson's `Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way'. It is not the kind of anthropological work we see in the great `Honey from a Weed' by Patience Gray or `Lulu's Provincial Kitchen' by Richard Olney, since this is written from within this milieu.

I always find a great irony in the modern trend toward local, seasonal cuisines, since this approach is not new, but a rediscovery of the way people HAD to eat before modern preservation techniques and global food distribution systems. So, in this book, we see the Alice Waters approach, crafted 120 years before Chez Panisse in Virginia.

True to this spirit, the book is written by both season and by type of meal, starting with spring and working its way around the calendar through summer, autumn, and winter. Since all recipes are given within the context of a meal, we get a set of dishes which go together simply because they were based on the ingredients grown on their Freetown farms.
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97 of 99 people found the following review helpful By JK on October 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've owned this book in one form or another since the book came out in the seventies. There were many people out there who were interested in moving away from can opener cookery, but were intimidated by the average 'hippie' cookbook. Mrs. Lewis, through her clear, excellent narrative and precise recipes, reminded many in the cities and suburbs of just how good fresh ingredients, prepared simply and with love, can elevate the eating experience to the sublime.
This is one of those special books combining two of my main reading interests: American history and cooking. Ms. Lewis has the book divided into chapters like meals; e.g. breakfasts, lunches and dinners, all occurring within the major season subheads. This makes perfect sense after you read the book and understand her emphasis on eating by the season. All Americans used to do this, but with modern transportation and food preservation, it doesn't exist anymore.
Over the past twenty-five years I think I've made just about every recipe in the book, and all of them can be recommended. I am a fan of Southern cooking and hers is certainly authentic.
That this book is still available is testament to its worth. It still makes for excellent reading and cooking, twenty-five years on.
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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful By southern craft on October 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
When I first started cooking I relied on recipes that had been in the family a long time; as I started branching out and trying new recipes though, I would frequently browse my mother's cookbook collection. One day as I was thumbing through them I came across a book entitled "A Taste of Country Cooking" by Edna Lewis. I opened it up, intrigued by the cover and wound up reading the whole thing, as I would a novel, then and there. Reading her book was like stepping through a portal to another world; that of a lively, down-home southern family and their way of life 50 years ago. I was initiated into their methods of preparing, harvesting and cooking their food as well as the "rituals" that surround them.

One of my favorite things about "A Taste of Country Cooking" is the layout: it is divided by the different seasons and subdivided within those categories by meal (i.e. breakfast, dinner, supper). Because of this display style Lewis was able to relate intimate details of how food for that season was prepared; in that time the food people cooked depended largely on what was ripe in the garden and what kind of meat was available during that time of year etc.

A favorite section of mine is the one located in the spring section of her book when she relates how all the men in her community would gather together to slaughter their hogs; it was fascinating reading about that process, so many methods such as these have been lost over the generations. Her book captured a slice of a forgotten time and allowed me a glimpse into the past.

I used this cookbook for the first time when I was looking for a recipe for Johnny Cake (a sweet thin cornbread) because I couldn't find my mothers' recipe.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a living document, a standard that should be on any American cookbook collection. Edna's style of writing can bring on tears of joy as she shares how life was for the citzens of Freetown. One the greatest strenghts of this book is the historical documentation of a rural town founded by freed slaves. I've cooked almost everything out of this book and found the receipes are acurate and down right beautiful! If you're a fan of Alice Water's Chez Panisse style, this book will not dissappoint. Edna uses the best of each season in her cooking style. This is true American food at its finest! The only people that might be dissappointed with this book would be vegans, this book deals with rural farming culture.
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