Edna Lewis's cookbooks helped define American Southern cooking in the twentieth century.
For a number of years, In Pursuit of Flavor, her third book, originally released in 1988, was been out of print. So we're glad to see this handsome new edition from Knopf, publishers of her Taste of Country Cooking.
"I learned about cooking and flavor as a child..." Lewis writes. "In those days, we lived by the seasons, and I quickly discovered that food tastes best when it is naturally ripe and ready to eat."
As much as we may now nod our heads in bland agreement, those words were remarkable more than thirty years ago; Lewis and other writers such as Perla Meyers, Jimmy Schmidt, and Alice Waters were refocusing public attention that had been captivated by abundance and worldwide access.
The recipes in In Pursuit of Flavor are clearly informed by Lewis's childhood in Virginia, but also by her years as a fine dining chef in NYC. It's easy to imagine her growing up eating poached eggs on slices of country ham, or panfried oysters with cornmeal coating, or peach cobbler. But her own creative genius is at work in dishes such as pan-braised spareribs with sherry-ginger sauce, Gulf snapper with black olive mayonnaise, or a meticulous rabbit pāté.
Yet no matter the origins of the recipes, Lewis's concern is always with making the most of food at the height of its appeal.
Hardcover. Line illustrations.