The following is an active list of books I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy. Sprinkled in is an author or two who’s collection of writing is worthy of choosing from. Hope you enjoy.
The Earth Knows My Name. Patricia Klindienst
This is one of the most powerful books I’ve read that showcases a cultural and anthropological look at the profound scope of food and it’s ability to shape personal identity. It’s one of the first books I read here in the Lowcountry and continues to be the benchmark I measure others against. It’s as formative and powerful as any text I could imagine reading. It’s well researched and even better written.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Barbara Kingsolver
So much fun to read. I’ve read it a handful of times and make notes in a collection of colors of highlighters and have scribbled plenty of thoughts in the margins. This one helps to make a case for reverence and for establishing a connection with food as a family, together. This, I’d argue, is how change is made to our food system.
If you’re a southerner, read Rick Bragg. If you’re not, find out why we’re not what everyone makes us out to be (okay, some of it’s true) by reading Rick Bragg. His ability to create images with words is rare. The best part is, he uses words we all understand. While I’m currently reading “The Best Cook in the World”, I’ve come to love “Ava’s Man” as my personal favorite–a book I’ve gifted more than I’ve gifted any one other thing. Rick Bragg has reminded me time and again how charming our landscape is, and how, in spite of our working class history, how truly rich our connections are with one another.
If you thought I could make it through a list about Southern things (particularly food things) without including Edna Lewis, you’d be terribly wrong. Ms. Lewis managed to create a compendium of what are now reference books about cooking honestly in the American South. She understood ingredients from an agrarian perspective and cooked food that explained seasonality and geography as well as anyone has since. If you’re missing books on southern American cookery, find a couple or three by Edna Lewis. Your family and friends will thank you. Over and over again.
Lewis Grizzard and Ludlow Porch. If you dont know, now you know.
Victuals, Ronni Lundy.
I was fortunate to cook for/host/meet Ms. Lundy during her book tour for Victuals and came to adore her for more than just her writing and unwaivering adoration for southern food. She was gracious and warm and immediately kind to everyone around her. She spoke with confidence and kept the eyes of whomever she was sharing time. She reflects her writing in a way that few are able. For that alone, I think you should read Victuals–and the host of other books she’s had a say with.