I chose this as my first Blogging for Books adventure because I could share the experience with my husband, who was born just outside of New Orleans and for whom soul food runs deep in his family. He's a writer, currently working on a history of his family and the land they acquired during Reconstruction, and I knew the family history at the beginning of the novel would be especially interesting for both of us.
It's clear from the beginning that the Randalls are writers. The writing from the beginning is lyrical and engaging. But they really draw you in to the story, to the quest for a better, healthier (and cheaper) way of eating that pays homage to their family history and to the kitchens of comfort food, and to later generations who replace the kitchen with fast food. That story is especially compelling.
At first, many of the recipes in here seem like filler — Simple Spinach, for example, is just spinach, some lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. But when you keep in mind that the Randalls are speaking to an audience that may lack a basic comfort level with cooking, it makes sense. The more involved recipes, like the Poet Pot Pie we had for dinner tonight, are complex and delicious, and will be meals we return to often.
I cleaned out our cookbooks tonight — and this one went front and center on the top shelf!