One of the most recognized figures of modern American cooking, Edna Lewis (1916–2006) played a major role in establishing the view that the rural southern Black cooking with which she grew up was not just a local phenomenon but a strongly rooted tradition that had much to offer. Her great Taste of Country Cooking (1976) gave a presence to greens, corn pone, and pork cracklings, showing such foods to be much more than vaguely interesting regional novelties.
Less well known is that Lewis did not come to serve this role directly from her country roots. She was, in fact, a highly accomplished restaurant cook, co-owning and cooking at New York’s celebrated Café Nicolson until the late 1950s and later at Brooklyn’s Gage and Tollner.
After teaching cooking for some years, she undertook this, her first cookbook, aided by one of her students, Evangeline Peterson. It was published in 1972. It is a wondrous amalgam of the foods of her Virginia childhood and the sophisticated restaurant food of New York City. Whether it is sautéed pork ribs and whipped sweet potatoes or poulet à la crème followed by profiteroles with whipped cream, custard, and chocolate sauce, Lewis teaches energetically and well proves that, before going on to other things, she was deservedly regarded as one of New York’s most admired chefs.
Although the book has enjoyed several republications, this copy is the scarce Bobbs-Merrill first printing of the first edition of Lewis’ first book. It is in extraordinary condition—Near Fine with a Very Good jacket—clean throughout with a clean case. The dust jacket is unclipped and has a small closed tear on the top edge. A price sticker remains on the front of the jacket. It’s one of the best we’ve ever seen. Highly collectible and very much in demand.
We do not often see Lewis first editions, especially in such excellent condition. It is an honor to be able to offer it.