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OP: Cross Creek Cookery

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by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Charles Scribner's Sons, 1942. Hardcover. Very Good, no jacket. First printing.

Widely known for her best-selling novel The Yearling, winner of the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was born in Washington, DC. At age 32, having come into some money, she bought a tract of land in the scrub country of north-central Florida, settling in a place called Cross Creek, named for a small river that ran nearby. 

Already an accomplished novelist, she began writing about the region, which she came to love, and following her autobiographical Cross Creek, she turned to cooking, a particular passion. Drawing on her dealings with local people who fished and hunted in the hammocks of this watery region, she collected recipes and developed a number of her own, based on local ingredients.

The resulting book, half-memoir, is wonderful reading, with a great cast of characters and abundant recipes that one nearly aches to try: sour cream muffins, fried cheese grits, Ruth Becker’s Creole oyster soup, buttered crabs, Spanish chicken fricassée, macaroon cream, kumquat jelly. And a few that, for many “outsiders,” might perhaps be more appealing to read about than to cook and eat: alligator tail steaks, coot liver and gizzard pilau, jellied tongue, swamp cabbage salad. 

A delightful trip down a culinary side-road by a major writer, and a very nice addition to any collection.

Ours is a Very Good first printing. It is bound in full cloth, lacking the jacket, though the fabric is printed with the same illustration and quite handsome. Evocative drawings by artist Robert Camp appear throughout the book. The interior is excellent—clean and fresh—and the binding is solid. Showing spotting along the top edge and a bumped, frayed fore corner. This copy is from the review collection of Wilma Phillips Stewart, Food Editor of the Des Moines Register in the 1940s and '50s. The title page bears her signature and the note, "Reviewed Dec 5 1942."

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