Sean Brock brought the deep-fried peanuts; Mike Lata, the skillet greens. And the oyster stew? Compliments of Sarah O’Kelley. As for the other 185 recipes in The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, they hail from a utopian mix of chefs, restaurant owners, farmers, writers, and home cooks. “We conceived a book that, hopefully, pays homage to the community cookbooks that have been treasured for generations but, at the same time, reflects a modern South where carnitas and collards coexist,” says coeditor and SFA director John T. Edge.
The chapters are divided by dish, from gravy to “Garden Goods”—where you’ll find mac ’n’ and cheese, since “it’s considered, by meat-and-three operators, to be a vegetable”—pork to “Put Up” fare. In each, an introduction ruminating on food culture below the Mason-Dixon leads to recipes that range from simple (Ambrosia Fruit Salad) to complex (Awendaw Spoonbread), iconic (fried chicken) to little-known (Benedictine spread).
All dishes are served up with a story about the chef, tips on ingredients, or some connection-forging tidbit you’ll want to share round your family table.
The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, edited by Sara Roahen & John T. Edge ($25, October 2010, University of Georgia Press)