REVIEWED BY MICHELLE GREEN
Born in Freetown, Va., a community populated by descendants of slaves, Edna Lewis (who died this year at 89) was raised in a setting where culinary rituals ran deep. In this fine 30th-anniversary edition of her memoir-style cookbook, the chef, who was a hero to Alice Waters and others, writes, "The year seemed to be broken up by great events such as hog butchering, Christmas, the cutting of ice in winter, springtime with its gathering of the first green vegetables and the stock going away to summer pasture...." Each month brought new delicacies; in autumn, there were stuffed quail and apples fried in bacon fat. Along with recipes, Lewis offers glimpses of daily life in the Depression-era South. "Fall was harvest time for the squirrels as well, and there would be a race between us and the squirrels for the wild hickory nuts. They could carry the crop of a tree away in one afternoon." In every way, Lewis reminds us that the greatest blessings are the simple ones—a caramel layer cake, ham biscuits or even cookies made with hickory nuts plucked ahead of a band of squirrels.