Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from My African American Kitchen
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This book is a love letter to Alexander Smalls very large and joyous life. Mr. Smalls' wit and charm come through on every page, exuding love for the family that raised him and the artistic and creative endeavors that have made his life both lush and vivid.
The recipes perfectly balance old southern comfort foods with contemporary tastes in the South Carolina food canon. There are plenty of traditional recipes to go around for those who are just dipping their toes into the glory of southern/soul food standards like Buttermilk Mac and Cheese and Steward Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey. Those who have already been anointed in butter and grits can also find a lot to learn to his next level dishes like Gullah Dirty Rice and Roast Quail in Bourbon Cream Sauce.
Sometimes I feel like we spend so much time doing the important work of recognizing and acknowledging the ugly and complicated parts of our collective American experience that we leave little space to also elevate the stories of love, joy, and abounding strength of the past. The narrative of this book is one of the latter. In Mr. Smalls' stories, chapter introductions, and recipe headnotes one can sense a profound pride and love in the family that helped nurture and sustain him throughout his life.
From the Publisher:
Iconic chef and world-renowned opera singer Alexander Smalls marries two of his greatest passions―food and music―in Meals, Music, and Muses. More than just a cookbook, Smalls takes readers on a delicious journey through the South to examine the food that has shaped the region. Each chapter is named for a type of music to help readers understand the spirit that animates these recipes.
Filled with classic Southern recipes and twists on old favorites, this cookbook includes starters such as Hoppin' John Cakes with Sweet Pepper Remoulade and Carolina Bourbon Barbecue Shrimp and Okra Skewers, and main dishes like Roast Quail in Bourbon Cream Sauce and Prime Rib Roast with Crawfish Onion Gravy.
Complete with anecdotes of Smalls's childhood in the Low Country and examinations of Southern musical tradition, Meals, Music, and Muses is a heritage cookbook in the tradition of Edna Lewis's A Taste of Country Cooking.