Book Review: 'The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners'
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., July 27, 2007
by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
Norton, 589 pp., $35
This encyclopedic regional jewel was named Cookbook of the Year by both the James Beard Foundation Awards and the International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Awards in the spring of 2007. After reading and cooking from it, I can understand why. I first became aware of Matt and Ted Lee through our mutual membership in the Southern Foodways Alliance, where they are highly regarded for their entrepreneurial accomplishments as well as their writings about Southern foods and places. As homesick young college graduates in New York City, the Lee brothers created a Southern foods mail-order company that supplies distinctive Southern comestibles to homesick Southerners all over the world, sharing the exhilarating opportunity to "cheat geography through food." The success of the Lee Bros. Boiled Peanut Catalogue led to travel writing assignments around the South, and those travels often generated regional recipes. The regional recipes, along with versions of the South Carolina Lowcountry classics from the authors' Charleston childhood, make up the core of this book. Many of the recipes can be varied with a "Downtown Touch" (read: fancy), while others can be modified with "Rustic Touches." There are Quick Knock Out (QKO) dishes that can be assembled swiftly and easily to boost cooking confidence and others that render Killer Left-Overs (KLO). Regardless of which recipes you choose, the anecdotes will be interesting, and the flavors are bound to satisfy. Matt and Ted Lee will demonstrate their cooking and storytelling prowess tonight, Thursday, July 26, to a sold-out class at the Central Market Cooking School.