Read to Eat

Start the summer with great food stories and recipes worth a little perspiration

Read to Eat

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales From a Southern Cook

by Martha Hall Foose
Clarkson Potter, 256 pp., $32.50

I was especially pleased to get this book, because I was a big fan of chef/author Martha Hall Foose's excellent baked goods at the Bottle­tree Bakery in Oxford, Miss., when I attended the Southern Foodways Symposium there in years past. A native of the Mississippi Delta, Foose is a well-traveled restaurant cook and French-trained pastry chef who returned to her roots a few years back. She's now the executive chef at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, Miss., raising her young family in a house inherited from her grandmother. Foose's rich culinary heritage and professional training definitely inform her first book. Who knew she would turn out to be every bit as good a storyteller as she is a cook?

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea features mouthwatering recipes for Southern specialties laced with tales of the family members, friends, and mentors who inspired or shared them. You'll enjoy Yazoo Cheese Straws, Delta Hot Tamales, peach fried pies, cheese grits, ham glazed in Barq's Root Beer, Sweet Tea Pie, and sweet-potato biscuits, each with a charming personal anecdote or a fascinating story establishing historical context. Foose's food, and her writing, manages to evoke the warm and genuine hospitality of the American South. Whether you're whipping up a batch of pimento cheese in the kitchen or relaxing in a rocker on the screened-in porch with a frosty glass of blackberry lemonade, Foose will be a welcome companion.

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