Cleora's Kitchens: The Memoir of a Cook and Eight Decades of Great American Food

Cleora Butler, Author Council Oak Books $26.95 (213p) ISBN 978-0-933031-02-9
Although stylistically unsophisticated, this memoir serves up a valid lesson on the American black experience in the South and charts the changes in American culinary tastes throughout this century. Proficient in Southern specialties like burnt-sugar ice cream and possum grape wine, the versatile Butler borrows from other cultures (croissants, blintzes) and continually updates her menus (wheat-germ stuffed tomatoes and white chocolate mousse in baked almond cups with strawberry sauce debut in the later years). Born into a family of professional cooks, she reminisces on her mother's hickory nut cake and grandfather's sausage. Tidbits on the history of kitchen staples like graham crackers and food processors are sprinkled throughout. With over 300 relatively simple and inexpensive recipes well organized into decades, the handsome book is illustrated with black-and-white photographs of kitchenware, some of them antiques. The author died recently at age 84. (April)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1986
Release date: 03/01/1986
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