Rick Bragg: The Best Cook in the World



But since that day in her cold kitchen I knew I had to convince her to let me write it all down to capture not ust the legend but the soul of her cooking for the generations to come and translate into the twenty first century the recipes that exist only in her mind before we all The Rescuer just blow away like the dust in that red field Rick Bragg s momma did not own a cookbook or a measuring cup or a mixer But she did outlive 20 something ovens and never parted with her cast iron skillet even though she once had to rescue it from a house fire Every meal she cooked came from memory using dabs and smidgens and tads and handfuls and a measurement she mysteriously refers to as you know honust some But every meal she cooked had soul and a story Bragg opens each chapter of this book with a black and white family photo and a title that offers a clue to the story behind the recipe The stories are the pull here but you also get recipes for pinto beans and collard greens and cornbread and fried chicken name any Southern food and the recipe is probably here even turtle and bolognaMy personal reminder and lesson from this book is that a certain generation of people most now in their 70 s and 80 s who still like to talk and talk and talk are dying off Listen closely to what they have to say even when you get tired of their same old stories because the world is changing and we won t get these people and these voices back Bragg s momma s generation wasis a hands on face to face generation so kudos to him for caring enough to spend the countless hours this book had to take to preserve what will soon be a lifestyle long gone Recommended to anyone who loves the South and Southern people and Southern stories whether you cook or not 45 stars I have put off writing a review of this book because I have found it hard to find the right words To say I loved it Happy Family just does not portray the feelings I have for this memory of family and food Except for a few regional differences these are the recipes of my North Carolina family and these are their experiences Every photographs with so many appearing to be made in those old carnival photo booths touched my heart I cried over turtle stews as I recalled my uncle once a year firing up the pit in a field behind our house and all those long gone men passing thear and waiting for their bowls I remembered my grandma packing her brown paper bag and threatening to go back to live at the old house if my grandpa didn t go over and get her woodstove and get shed of that new electric stove There are few books that a reader can live in but this is one Especially if you are a Southerner of textile or tenant farming descent don t miss this one Thank you thank you Rick Bragg This book is than Taboo Feeding just a memoir than a cookbook It is about a family who have shared their secrets to feeding a lot of people on a nickle who have passed down traditions along with their cooking who took care of one another even if they didn t like each other much sometimes and who even shared a precious cast iron skillet at one time or anotherWanting to preserve the amazing dishes Rick Bragg decides to try to get it all down on paper before it s lost This is not an easy task as Margaret Bragg does not own a cookbook does not measure any ingredients and does it the way she and generations before her were taught You know a tad a smidgen andust enough She doesn t time anything in the oven yer nose will tell ya w What a beautiful book The Best Cook in the World Tales from My Momma s Table was a loving tribute not only to his mother Margaret but to his grandmother Ava and related in the warm all embracing and endearing way that only Rick Bragg can accomplish in describing all of the rich I don t know when I have ever enjoyed a book Just sheer pleasure every time I opened the covers I read this one as my bedtime book for a couple of weeks and looked forward to the hour or so spent with Rick Bragg s people as he likes to call themOf course it was a no brainer that I would love it It combines memoir with food and recipes Rick Bragg s wonderful prose and humor great people past and present and family pictures His family is a large cussin fightin drinkin God fearin cookin eatin hell raising bunch of southerners and he loves them all with a fierceness we don t usually see in memoirs No traumatizing dysfunctional excuse for unhappiness here he loves these people and all their craziness and portrays them with gentleness and humorAnd the recipes This is the way my family cooked and ate back before food was something to be feared and regulated There is lard and butter and bacon grease galore because those things elevate plain country food to manna from heaven When food was to fill your belly and give you a little pleasure two or three times a day in between working and trying to pay the rent Most of us don Margaret Bragg does not own a single cookbook She measures in dabs and smidgens and tads and you know hon ust some She cannot be pinned down on how long to bake corn bread about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the mysteries of your oven Her notion of farm to table is

BOOK READ The Best Cook in the World AUTHOR Rick Bragg – cafe1919.org

Lt I could never get the recipe correct I could never get the pot roast right either and I had the amounts of the ingredients correct as in one box of onion soup mix My husband does all the cooking and he used her pot roast recipe and it is as good as hers Go figure I nominate him as the best cook in the world because well he is He takes any recipe he finds and makes it better Did I tell you that he used to be a cook at Rose s Landing in Morro Bay CA He thinks that that was the name of the restaurant But he was not a chef ust that it is in his DNA Well I digressed Anyway these were the only two dishes that I loved that my mom made and she didn t begin making them until she remarried when I was maybe 16 I don t recall what she made when I was younger than 8 At least she was great at making sweets ie cookies and cakes Just after my mom s divorce we had the worst cook preparing our meals I thought it was Mom that fed us horrible meals that I will tell you about shortly Then when I asked my older sister Jeanette to help me in remembering these meals she said that she made dinner for us and she didn t know how to cook Mom never taught any of us girls how to cook You see Jeanette told our mom that she would uit high school and take care of us if Mom left our dad She was 15 or so had finished her sopho year She did this so Mom could go to work in order to take care of us financially It was good that Jeanette had made friends in high school friends that remained in her life for all these years If she had not had these friends she would have gone crazy with the three of us a brother me and a little baby sister Well as she said she could not cook Here is what she fed usHot dogs and Pork n Beans in a can hot dogs in sauerkraut SpaghettiOs fried hash patties from a can liver with mashed potatoes and canned peas on the side Creamed tuna or something else She claims it was always hash on toast canned tamales hamburger patties Potato Cakes made by mixing mashed potatoes with flour and eggs then made into patties and fried And I remember those Gawd awful black eyed peas You name it if it came out of a can she could cook it But she knew how to fry liver Yuck Well she also made chocolate chip cookies which we all loved She would make hers large and I would feel cheated not realizing that I could grab two and they would then be eual to her large one And don t let me forget to tell you about our taffy pulls and other homemade candySo when Mom remarried we were done with Jeanette s cooking but then she had married an Finished this with some difficulty because it was too long I d recommend that it be read over a short period of time If it would have been 200 pages shorter it would have had power That being said it was an interesting read mixing family stories and simple classic southern recipes This book was an absolute delight Rick Bragg writes lovingly about his mother and her southern cooking and shares amazing stories about his wackadoo familyI listened to this book on audio read by Bragg himself and I highly recommend it He has a charming narration and I found the book positively soothing This was the first Bragg book I ve read but I loved it so much I ve already reuested his other works from the libraryHighly recommended for readers who like foodie memoirs or tales of southern lifeOpening PassageSince she was eleven years old even if all she had to work with was neck bones peppergrass or poke salad she put good food on a plate She cooked for dead broke uncles hungover brothers shade tree mechanics faith healers dice shooters hairdressers pipe fitters crop dusters high steel walkers and well diggers She cooked for ironworkers Avon ladies highway patrolman sweatshop seamstresses fortune tellers coal haulers dirt track daredevils and dime store girls She cooked for lost souls stumbling home from Aunt Hattie s beer Arvyndase (Silverspeech) joint and for singing cowboys on the AM radio She cooked in her first eighty years than seventy thousand meals as basic as hot buttered biscuits with pear preserves or muscadineelly as exotic as tender braised beef tripe in white milk gravy in kitchens where the only ventilation was the banging of the screen door She cooked for people she d The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, just as soon have poisoned and for the loves of her life It s funny how it s the little things in life that mean the mostNot where you live what you drive or the price tag on your clothesThere s no dollar sign on a piece of mind this I ve come to knowSo if you agree have a drink with meRaise you glasses for a toastTo a little bit of chicken fried And cold beer on a Friday nightA pair ofeans that fit ust rightAnd the radio upI like to see the sunriseSee the love in my woman s eyesFeel the touch of a precious childAnd know a mother s love Chicken Fried Zac Brown Band Songwriters Wyatt Durrette Zac BrownNot uite two years ago I read Them pre date the Civil War handed down skillet by skillet from one generation of Braggs to the next In The Best Cook in the World Rick Bragg finally preserves his heritage by telling the stories that framed his mother's cooking and education from childhood into old

Eat that way any but then most of us don t work that hard any either I miss those days but it was nice to relive them in these pagesAnd it was nice to get to know Grandma Ava Grandpa Charlie all the aunts and uncles with a special shout out to Aunt Juanita my kind of woman And of course Mama These are her recipes never written down but handed down through the years There is even a recipe here for possum which Mama hates and won t eat but Aunt Juanita claims it cured her stomach ulcers years ago after she ate a whole possum all by herselfI did love this book and these people and this goes on my favorite shelf My only mistake here was getting this from the library Taking it back will be a little like turning the whole family into Social Services I ll have to buy a copy now put it on my shelf and give this family a permanent home My favorite author The only one I buy while they are still warm from the presses and keep to read again I love this guy s family The author tells about his grandmother and mother who make old fashioned southern cooking These are not health conscious recipes As a matter of fact grease and fat factor heavily into most of the recipes Each chapter tells a story pertaining to his favorite foods and then at the end of the chapter are the recipes It is worth reading the entire recipe as he writes them in his mother s voice and not in traditional recipe form I might even make a few of them although I think I will skip possum and suirrel An Author and a Sister to Bragg AboutWhat a fun read While Rick Bragg shared his mother s recipes he also had many stories to tell not ust stories about his mother but about other people as well Some were laugh out loud funny but so were the recipes not that they were not real recipes but you won t catch me making any of them In other words she was not the best cook in the world or even the county where she lived well maybe she was as some people love country cooking Maybe it should really be called back woods cookingWhat is back wood cooking To me it means making poke salad He will ALMOST tell you how to cook poke salad yes cook Poke is poisonous so I personally would never try to cook it He claims that it is also nutritious but once it has been boiled and re boiled a few times and sueezed to death I think the vitamins and minerals went down the drain in the sink And as far as I am concerned you can throw the poke down it as well We have it growing here so I Wedlock Of The Gods just cut it down and throw it in a compost pile She also makes crackling cornbread which could be good I believe crackling meat is pork fat and Alexa thinks so too You cut it into 2 inch cubes fry it until the cubes are golden in color and add the cubes to the cornbread recipe Yum You won t need butter on it as the fat is enough Then I think you use the left over fat to fry other foods I think it is then called lard And these days lard is in vogue I bought a smallar of it to cook with and when it came in the mail I realized that I had paid 28 for a small amount of lard I mean 28 for 14 oz of pig fat organic Never again The lard at the grocery store was cheap but it was partially hydrogenated Not good His stories are hard to reproduce here as there is no plot to this book ust laugh out loud stories Example A woman shoots her abusive husband Well that doesn t sound funny but it was And I don t know how this story has anything to do with food except that his false teeth were destroyed in the process so he would have to gum his food See I kind of ruined that story so I can t tell you any instead what I am going to do is tell my own stories and kind of mix his mom s recipes with my ownOne of his mother s recipes is Sweet Potato Cobbler What No way Cobbler is all about berries or peaches It is not about food that you dig up from the ground I have a delicious recipe for Sweet Potato Pie which crust is an acceptable one It has a Chantilly Cream Topping as in alcohol in the whipped cream real whipping cream not fake Other than this recipe of mine sweet potatoes should only be served with real butter on top And I have ust learned that the skin is delicious as well To think that I used to give the skin to our dog Bragg s mom also made Potato Salad as well Her recipe didn t sound good and I must say I can tell what a recipe will taste like ust by reading its ingredients This ability comes with age While I will never claim that my mom was the best cook I will make the claim that her potato salad and her macaroni salad were the best I have ever had And so was her pot roast I have tried to make these dishes but I could never get either right She used Miracle Whip in her salad and I always use mayonnaise which could be the problem and I have never tried to correct this habit Plus she never measured anything I wrote down her recipe one day but I had to guess at it As a resu. Flatbed truck But she can tell you the secrets to perfect mashed potatoes corn pudding redeye gravy pinto beans and hambone stewed cabbage short ribs chicken and dressing biscuits and butter rolls The irresistible stories in this audiobook are of long memory many of.

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