BOOK/EAT: White Trash Cooking

I somehow ended up recently with the “Winter 2006” issue of The Oxford American in my mailbox. I’m a regular subscriber of the mag and a big fan, but Winter 2006 2 years too late??

In the issue though, there is a long sort of blowhardish intellectualization about Ernest Mickler‘s “controversial” cookbook White Trash Cooking. The essay goes on and on drawing similarities to various other works and authors – Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Agee/Evans, Nora Neal Hurston, and others. I guess seeing some great democracy in Mickler’s book in its ability to preserve and share a local culture, and document folklore.

In addition and/or aside from of all that, it seems like a fun book and people like it. The product description points out that: “This is not a joke book or a parody. This is a warmly written, humorous, and quite serious cookbook filled with delightful traditional and unusual recipes. It includes wonderful photographs by the author of people and places and food all connected to his fondness and memory of growing up in rural and small town Mississippi. You may not be tempted to try every single recipe in this book, but you won’t be able to resist trying many of them!”

And a reader review raves: “I first bought this book years ago, when it first came out-and itshows: the biscuit page has tea stains all over it-so does the potato-chip sandwich! The latter is worth a try, albeit a tad salty, but it IS delish. You absolutely cannot fail to make good biscuits with their recipe, it is simple, basic, and wonderful. What they do with food is real simple, and the low-priced version of “peasant food.” It is worth it for the pictures in the center alone, it doesn’t put down white trash, it celebrates ’em! Darn fine cooks, too. Really delicious summer produce recipes, and the tomato sandwich idea is one anyone can relish. This book occupies a proud, and well-used, pride of place in my cookbook collection. Unlike snotty cookbooks where they look down on the reader, presupposing a well-laden pantry groaning with esoterica- this is REAL FOOD, REAL SIMPLE. A tribute to all the white trash who built this country, and really tasty, too. Y’all try it some, hear?”

Seems like White Trash Cooking is a must own for anyone who, like me, has a loose resolve to learn to cook in 2009. Yum!

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