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The Taste of Country Cooking

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  850 ratings  ·  57 reviews
In recipes and reminiscences equally delicious, Edna Lewis celebrates the uniquely American country cooking she grew up with some fifty years ago in a small Virginia Piedmont farming community that had been settled by freed slaves. With menus for the four seasons, she shares the ways her family prepared and enjoyed food, savoring the delights of each special time of year:< ...more
Hardcover, 30th Anniversary Edition, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Knopf (first published 1976)
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  850 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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My husband walked by the other night and asked what I was reading. “Oh, just a cookbook” I answered. “What for?” he said with raised eyebrows and added, “When was the last time you cooked something from a cookbook?” He had a point. “Well, this one’s really interesting. I’ve always wanted to know how to butcher a hog”. That sent him on his way shaking his head.

To tell the truth, my husband was right. I read lots of cooking magazines and cookbooks and yet make very little beyond the usual meals I
mark monday
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A unique experience! So much more than a cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking is a sweetly contemplative and often elegiac travelogue through Lewis' life as a girl in Freetown, Virginia, a farming community founded by freedmen including the author's grandfather. It is hard to do justice to the moving quality of the writing, which manages to be both matter-of-fact (the post-butchering preparation of a hog carcass is described quite clearly) and lyrical (portraits of her mother cooking, the smel ...more
Karen Witzler
Nov 17, 2011 rated it liked it
I knew this place and these flavors well; maybe not the homemade wines and the salsify, but these dishes and seasonal ways of being were still alive during my Deep South childhood in the "60's. Gravy? You don't know gravy until you've had ham and cream ...
Carol Bakker
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is Little House in the Big Woods for adults. Edna Lewis writes through the seasons, demonstrating how to make scrumptious food without the newest, oldest, or next best kitchen appliance. Honestly, she made meringue made with a fork!

Look at the cover photo. That winsome smile compels me, that face makes me want to name Edna Lewis my friend.

I haven't cooked from this book yet. Lard, a common ingredient, is something I swore off a few years back. (But who knows? How many formerly reviled foods ar
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An already cherished gift from a great friend - reads like a novel, the best, most comforting novel you can imagine. I would read every menu aloud just to hear the words - blackberries and cream, ham biscuits, watermelon rind pickles, Tyler Pie, a thermos of hot coffee...I am going to find Freetown, Virginia and have a memorial picnic for Edna Lewis one day, I swear
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a really wonderful book. Edna Lewis grew up in Freetown, a town that was founded by emancipated slaves. I believe she's first- or second-generation free person. She talks fondly about the farm her family ran, and about her time with family members, friends, and neighbors. She writes fantastically.[return][return]The book is organized by the season. Don't be scared off by the fact that a lot of the sweets call for lard. One can substitute Crisco or similar shortening if lard is not availa ...more
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
Oh my goodness, I just opened this cookbook and I think I will enjoy reading it cover to cover - even make some of the recipes for our quiet 4th of July BBQ at home...

This is the best way, if extremely worky, to make the best tasting food.

This is a story about a farming community that worked together to raise the kids and tend the fields, animals and gardens used to make the food for each family and the entire community.

Sounds like a wonderful utopian existenc
Oh, my, my, just lovely. Like dessert, this book is perfect for reading in bed and dropping imaginary everyday-cake-crumbs on the sheets. A lovely story about eating locally and sustainably before it was made trendy by Whole Foods. I had severe family jealousy for a bit (although my family always ate quite well, too - in a small rural town, we often ate canned jams from local blackberries & the like).

I got this from the library, but I will definitely be looking for a used copy at the next b
Mark J.
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A combination of charming memoir, practical technique and delicious sounding recipes sprinkled with a good serving of vanishing skills. If only we worked hard enough these days to eat the meals she describes!
Lauren Rauk
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great cookbook and historical account. The recipes are more interesting because of the stories about farming and community. Good tips and mouth-watering ideas.
What a beautifully evocative story of home and childhood and every best memory of the rewards of dedication and hard work. Then there are the recipes, each within its particular season. Can't wait to dig in!
This was such an interesting cookbook. There is so much history behind the recipes and the meals. I like how the book was broken into seasons, then into meals. It was interesting to see how much food was served at each meal. I did find some recipes I'm hoping to try. If you're looking for healthy, this is not the cookbook for you! But it's still a good read.
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mary
Shelves: cookbooks
This book was such a joy to read. If you like to cook, if you like to garden, if you're Southern, if history of the way we eat and cultivate food interests you - definitely read this book. It is a lovely (and lovingly crafted) book about the process of food and cooking and the reasons certain foods were eaten.
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Edna Lewis was cooking seasonally before it was trendy to do so - it was simply the way she and her family lived on their family farm. Her recipes flow from season by season, using ingredients we think of as "gourmet" today - sorrel, fresh thyme, fish roe. A true farmhouse cookbook, Miss Lewis's stories and anecdotes are a joy to read.
Christopher Pope
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Way more than a cookbook. This was an anthropological deep dive into the deep South. I just wanted recipes and came away with a wonderful exploration of a culture, time, and place that I never knew of or would have ever considered. But one that contains a tale of southern cooking as a cuisine taken straight from it's figurative and literal roots.

I'm definitely understanding why this is one of the all time cookbook classics. I'm excited for the recipes, but I'm moe excited to try to emulate in m
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
All you need to know about this cookbook are two things. First, it was edited by Judith Jones, who discovered Julia Child. And more importantly, Edna Lewis and her cookbook should be remembered not only for the recipes but for imparting a sense of the culture that went along with it. She was born in Freetown, Virginia, a community established by her grandfather and other freed slaves after emancipation in 1865 and the cookbook details events celebrated by this community that remains largely forg ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
For this cookbook, I mostly read the introductions to many of the recipes since they had "slice of life" anecdotes that set up the recipes. A lot of the recipes are certainly accessible. Some of the recipes seemed to be missing some steps, and it is hard to judge what things should look like since there are no pictures of the final dish. The simplicity of the recipes was impressive and a good reminder that a good meal doesn't always mean that it has to be complicated.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't normally list cookbooks on Goodreads, but this one is perfect for reading curled up in bed - full of enticing recipes, it also reads as a memoir of Edna Lewis's childhood and an ode to the food ad customs of Freetown, a farming community of freed slaves in VA.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Edna Lewis brings the reader into the world of her childhood, growing up in "Freetown" a farming community founded by former slaves. Her descriptions of the Freetown way of life are an astonishing mix of the pragmatic, idyllic and ecstatic--
Juli Anna
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
A classic for a reason. Frankly this food is so rich and meat-heavy, that I don't plan on making any of the recipes, but Lewis's authorial voice is resplendent as she plies her way through the stories of her childhood with humor, poetry, and depth. A true joy to read through.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This rating is based on the writing, not on a sampling of the recipes themselves.
Cheryl B
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Fine recipes, I haven't tried them all yet but I read them all. Only a couple I don't want to try.
David Ryan
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great stories! I read it more for the stories, than the reciepes.
Kristen Shaw
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful photos and excellent recipes.
Megan K. Brown
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Six, no, TEN stars! Best cookbook I have ever read.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The recipes didn't interest me as much as the stories. Wonderful to read.
S Vanorse
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Edna, I would be proud to sit at your table, and in your kitchen, I would love to cook with you. This one a keeper for sure.
Rafael Eaton
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is The Great American Novel.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbook
Not so much a cookbook but a lovely collection of cooking memories.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book. I like good reading cookbooks, and this is one of the best. I have yet to cook anything from it, and doubt I'll ever get around to her instructions for properly hanging pheasant, but the memoir sections are fascinating and idyllic, I can't think of any other nonfiction that they remind me of. The Betsy Tacy books I read as a child are what it brought to mind.
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