A food-writing explosion has happened around the Carolinas in the last few years. Chefs, farmers, food producers and home-based cooks are all getting their names on the covers of books.
Before the prime gifting season slips away, let me point out a few books from close to home that deserve your attention:
“Heritage,” by Sean Brock (Artisan, $40). Before he was a nationally famous chef with restaurants in Charleston and Nashville (Husk and McCrady’s), Brock was a humble kid from West Virginia who loved the simple food of the South. This book is gorgeous and sweeping, with amazing photography. But it also has just-plain-delicious recipes from that guy who just loved food, like “Chicken Simply Roasted in a Skillet.”
“Bread Revolution,” by Peter Reinhart (Ten Speed Press, $30). When Reinhart came to Charlotte to join the faculty at Johnson & Wales University, we scored a visionary who never stops learning and sharing what he learns. His latest looks at sprouted and whole-grain flours and how to bake with them.
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“The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region,” by Marcie Cohen Ferris (UNC Press, $35). Want to feel smarter in 2015? Read anything by Ferris. This meticulously researched history book (note that it’s not a cookbook) strips away the myths to find how food shaped this place.
“The Southern Living Community Cookbook,” by Sheri Castle (Oxmoor House, $29.95). Want a cookbook guaranteed to get covered in drips and stains? Castle, who lives in Chapel Hill, got the job of sorting through thousands of recipes in the Southern Living archives to pick 200 classics. Brilliant and beautiful.
“Farmer & Chef Asheville,” by Debby Maugans and Christine Sykes Lowe (Farmer & Chef South, $28.99). There isn’t a hotter food destination than Asheville right now. Maugans and Sykes gathered recipes from the restaurants and farms all around them to create a portrait of a thriving food scene.
“Part-Time Paleo,” by Leanne Ely (Plume, $18). Charlotte-based Ely is a master at organizing eating plans with her Saving Dinner series. In this one, she tackles the gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle.
“Sweet Potatoes,” by April McGreger, and “Southern Holidays,” by Debbie Moose (both $18, UNC Press). The Savor the South cookbook series (I have two earlier books in the series) continues to highlight both Southern recipes and Southern writers. McGreger, for instance, is a farmer and food producer in Carrboro, while Moose has a deep history across the state.