With a gift for cooking and a stellar collection of recipes, Bill Neal, who bridged the 1980s fascination with French-influenced "gourmet cuisine" and traditional southern flavors, became a leader in the regional food renaissance of the 1980s. As a founding partner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina's legendary restaurant Crook's Corner, he made humble regional cuisine like Shrimp and Grits, Buttermilk Cornbread with Cracklins, and Boned Quail shine on the national stage. Crook's Corner, taken over by Bill Smith after Neal's passing of HIV/AIDS in 1991, has continued to expand the menu options while keeping the overall flavors and restaurant vibe.
Crook's Corner remains and institution today and this cookbook reveals it's origin and the background and subtleties of southern foods. Neal uses imaginative new ways with old standards to make the recipes more accessible, but he never resorts to shortcuts or processed ingredients. He also shows how the meeting of Native American, Western European, and African cultures has created this cuisine.
This cookbook, a revised edition published posthumously, is an excellent primer in his work, a glimpse into a specific time, and is frankly a fabulous read.