Edible Read: Books to Devour
Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine
By Kelley Fanto Deetz
The University Press of Kentucky (November 6, 2017)
Hardcover, $29.95; Kindle, $19.49
In grocery store aisles and kitchens across the country, smiling images of “Aunt Jemima” and other historical and fictional black cooks can be found on various food products and in advertising. Although these images are sanitized and romanticized in American popular culture, they represent the untold stories of enslaved men and women who had a significant impact on the nation’s culinary and hospitality traditions even as they were forced to prepare food for their oppressors.
Kelley Fanto Deetz draws upon archaeological evidence, cookbooks, plantation records and folklore to present a nuanced study of the lives of enslaved plantation cooks from colonial times through emancipation and beyond. She reveals how these men and women were literally “bound to the fire” as they lived and worked in the sweltering and often fetid conditions of plantation house kitchens. These highly skilled cooks drew on skills and ingredients brought from their African homelands to create complex, labor-intensive dishes such as oyster stew, gumbo and fried fish. However, their white owners overwhelmingly received the credit for their creations.
Focusing on enslaved cooks at Virginia plantations including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Deetz restores these forgotten figures to their rightful place in American and Southern history. Bound to the Fire not only uncovers their rich and complex stories, but it celebrates their living legacy with the recipes that they created and passed down to future generations. Historical archaeologist and historian Kelley Fanto Deetz is a research associate at the James River Institute for Archaeology. Deetz, who was a professional chef for several years, is a contributor to The Routledge History of Food and Birth of a Nation: Nat Turner and the Making of a Movement. Her work has appeared in National Geographic History. She lives in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Burgoo, Barbecue and Bourbon: A Kentucky Culinary Trinity
By Albert W. A. Schmid, photography by Jessica Ebelhar
University Press of Kentucky
Burgoo, barbecue and bourbon have long been acknowledged as a trinity of good taste in Kentucky. Known as the gumbo of the Bluegrass, burgoo is a savory stew that includes meat — usually smoked — from at least one “bird of the air,” at least one “beast of the field” and as many vegetables as the cook wants to add. Often you’ll find this dish paired with one of the
Commonwealth’s other favorite exports, bourbon, and the state’s distinctive barbecue.
Schmid shares recipes and lore surrounding these storied culinary traditions. He introduces readers to new and forgotten versions of favorite regional dishes from the time of Daniel Boone to today and uncovers many lost recipes, such as Mush Biscuits, Kentucky Tombstone Pudding and the Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake. He also highlights classic bourbon drinks that pair well with burgoo and barbecue, including Moon Glow, Bourbaree and the Hot Tom and Jerry. Featuring cuisine from the early American frontier to the present day, this entertaining book is filled with fascinating tidbits and innovative recipes for the modern cook.
The Beer Cheese Book
By Garin Pirnia
Published by University Press of Kentucky
The ingredients are simple — beer, cheese and spices — and the result is delicious. Still, beer cheese is a rarefied dish not common in cookbooks or on menus. Since the 1940s, this creamy appetizer with a kick, traditionally served with pretzels, has quietly found its way into pubs and restaurants throughout the South and Midwest.
Pirnia traces the history of beer cheese from its beginnings at the Driftwood Inn in Winchester, Kentucky, and surveys the restaurants that serve this distinctive dip, highlighting points of interest along the Beer Cheese Trail. The book includes dozens of recipes, from the classic original, to new twists like Pawpaw Beer Cheese, Crab Broccoli, Beer Cheese Casserole and Beer Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits, making your mouth water. Pirnia has written about food and arts culture for more than 10 years and lives in Covington, Kentucky.