The Lee Bros. Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners
Matt Lee, Ted Lee, . . Norton, $35 (589pp) ISBN 978-0-393-05781-2
With respect for the past and an enlightened, modern sensibility, the Lee brothers roll up their sleeves and get elbow-deep in Southern cooking in all its sugary, fried goodness. The authors grew up in Charleston, S.C., where they developed a love for boiled peanuts, shrimp and grits, and she-crab soup. Now New Yorkers (and co-proprietors of a mail-order source for Southern pantry staples), the brothers are aware that certain Southern foods have quite a reputation elsewhere in the country ("grits run a close second to lard as the longest-running joke about southern food, perceived by the uninitiated to be a curiosity rather than what they are: a pillar of southern cooking"). As a result, their approach to the cuisine is steeped in research and never snobby. Many recipes are coded "quick knockout," meaning they use just a few ingredients and can be prepared relatively quickly (Fried Oysters, Shrimp Burgers). More involved recipes (Lady Baltimore Cake; Kentucky Burgoo, a meat stew) come with fascinating asides on their origins. Classy, matter-of-fact and welcoming, this volume deserves a permanent place on cooks' shelves by day and on bedside tables by night, as a browsable primer on a world and its food. Photos, line drawings.
Reviewed on: 09/04/2006