Twenty years ago, I birthed a baby. Two weeks ago, I birthed a book.
Remarkable what the two have in common: Worry, pacing, lack of sleep, upended schedules.
You get caught up in the whole process and look up with surprise to find the world is doing other things, like producing other books.
The thing is, this winter is looking like a remarkably productive one for Southern cookbooks. All kinds of books, big ones and small ones, are crossing my desk.
Every book is someone’s baby, and when you have a baby of your own, you notice the ones that belong to other people.
Now might be a good time to put them on your radar:
“Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking,” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith, $45). It doesn’t come out until Nov. 1, but Charleston’s Nathalie Dupree has been working on it for years, aiming to make it the biggest book on the Southern shelf. I haven’t seen the finished version, but I suspect she probably succeeded. It will have 600 recipes, hundreds of step-by-step photos and a focus on cooking techniques.
“Southern Comfort: A New Take on the Recipes We Grew Up With,” by Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing (Ten Speed, $35). The Rushings met as young chefs in New Orleans, took off for New York and big-time success, then chucked it all and went back to New Orleans to open MiLa. There’s an eagerness in their embrace of food, especially in things like Shrimp Creole Risotto and Pimento Cheese Croquettes. This will be the book for the young, hip and hungry.
“Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides,” by Fred Thompson (UNC Press, $35). Warning: Fred and I have the same publisher and I’ve known him for years. But that also means I know his reputation for writing good recipes. The recipes cover the whole year, so you won’t just use this in the summer when the tomatoes are in.
“Southern Living Home Cooking Basics: A Complete Illustrated Guide to Southern Cooking” (Oxmoor House $29.95). Like Dupree’s book, this one has lots of recipes, pictures and techniques. Despite the title, it’s more focused on general home cooking, although there are Southern touches like pimento cheese and cornbread.
“Food Lovers’ Guide to Charlotte,” by Sarah Crosland and “Food Lovers’ Guide to Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill,” by Johanna Kramer (both Globe Pequot, $14.95). Let’s put a stop to the debates over which one has the better food scene. Both areas have a lot to do, taste and see. And both of these books cover restaurants, food shopping and recipes from local chefs.
“Asheville Beer,” by Anne Fitten Glenn (The History Press, $16.99). I’ve only seen the previews of this guide, but seriously – what a great idea. If you’re into beer, you have to explore Asheville, so a guide will be a great thing to have. And I’ve heard that a Charlotte version is in the works.