Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts
Years ago, when O. Henry Prize-winning writer Crystal Wilkinson was baking a jam cake, she felt her late grandmother’s presence. She soon realized that she was not the only cook in her kitchen; there were her ancestors, too, stirring, measuring, and braising alongside her. These are her kitchen ghosts, five generations of Black women who settled in Appalachia and made a life, a legacy, and a cuisine.
Later, as an expert cook, Wilkinson shares nearly forty family recipes rooted deep in the past. She found their stories in her apron pockets, floating inside the steam of hot mustard greens and tucked into the sweet scent of clove and cinnamon in her kitchen. Part memoir, part cookbook, Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts weaves those stories together with recipes, family photos, and a lyrical imagination to present a culinary portrait of the mothers who came before her, the land that provided for generations of her family, and the untold heritage of Black Appalachia.