The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table

Knopf. Apr. 2018. 512p. illus. index. ISBN 9781400040414. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525520283. COOKING
OrangeReviewStarHere is a beautifully written memoir by a man who can't cook very well—at least according to his mother. And that mother, Margaret Bragg, is the central figure in this culinary history from author Bragg, who is known for family stories (All over but the Shoutin'). Bragg comes from a long line of adept cooks, and this story begins with his great-grandfather Jimmy Jim teaching Bragg's grandmother Ava to cook when she was a newlywed. Other legendary family cooks make appearances, along with family legends of all kinds. For Bragg, food and stories go hand in hand, and Margaret is not only the chief cook, she is also the chief storyteller. These accounts are more than entertainment; they are a way for people to survive hard times. We should all be so lucky to sit at the elbow of a great cook as they work and pass along family knowledge.
VERDICT For readers who crave soul with their recipes (some 75 here), this is a fitting tribute to foodways that are fast slipping away.
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