200 Recipes from the South's Best Chefs and Home Cooks, with a resource from ingredients, an historical overview, and wine recommendations
Taylor went from East Texas to Northern Virginia, from Jacksonville to Memphis in search of recipes that typify the way today's southerners are cooking. There are many surprises as well as many traditions that have not died. Though a few recipes from chefs are involved, ninety percent of the recipes include more than ten ingredients.
The southerner's much ballyhooed sense of place seems to define where the South is as much as anything else; that is, the South is more idea than area, more emotion than nation. It is "home" in the minds of those people who consider themselves southerners. And those people may no longer live here. When I lived in New York and asked people where they were from, I noticed that even if they had been living in the city for two decades they would name the state or country of their birth. When I ask the same question of someone who may have moved to the South just two months ago, the answer is likely to be Hilton Head or Atlanta or Charlotte....
It amazes me how many weird ideas persist about the South and our cooking. Fresh lard is next to impossible to find in the South, for example, yet outsiders think southerners cook everything in it. Our novelists and rock 'n' roll bands are best-sellers, and our population increases at twice the national rate....
Some of the southern stereotypes are, of course, true. We are an eccentric bunch in a land where eccentricities are fostered and cherished: You have only to look at our representatives in Washington to understand that southern truth. Our passion for food and eating is just another of those eccentricities that has added to the popularity of our novelists, songwriters, and playwrights. When I called a friend whose father had died and asked her what food I could send, she told me, "Honey, you know Daddy wasn't dead five hours and there were already three hams here. I've got a freezer full of pound cakes, and we've started giving them away. One of them was pink!"