Book Review: The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt and Ted Lee
As a lot of regular readers already know, Alan and I are both from the South originally. So I was intrigued by The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt and Tim Lee when Alan brought it home from the Tacoma Public Library. Just looking through the table of contents page showed me many names and recipes that brought back a lot of very pleasant memories. If only the recipes themselves brought back similar pleasures. These are old line Southern recipes that have been updated and revised at best, such as Sunday Gumbo, and at worst turned into Nouvelle cuisine type dishes which is as far from traditional Southern cooking as you can get. Remember the Nouvelle Blackened Cajun Dish trend, well there’s a recipe for Blackened Potato Salad here. Ah, for the days when ox tails and greens were simply poor folks food. And that people didn’t think of grits as white polenta.
The recipes do include a few I wish they’d just left alone, such as Sally Lunn or simple Hushpuppies, or Shrimp Bisque as I’d love to be able to make some of these old line Southern staples again.
The Brothers have an impressive writing style, and the parts documenting how they as children developed their love of food and how they gained cooking experience at their uncle’s restaurant kitchen as children were quite good. Their stories concerning the foods and how they were developed and the regions where they came from are just as fascinating. A well made point in the beginning is that so many non Southerners think of Southern cooking as simply a monolithic entity when in reality what you grew up eating was highly dependent on where you grew up. A distance of a mere thirty miles might make a huge difference in food preferences/tastes.
This book is let down by it’s revision of old line Southern favorites and I can’t in all honesty recommend this book to anyone. So, I’m still waiting for someone to publish that all purpose Southern essential cookbook. Or maybe it’s just me getting old and wistfully wanting to return to the South of my youth, the South that is no more.
Title: The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook Authors: Matt Lee, Ted Lee Publisher: Norton Publication Date: 2006