Monday, January 28, 2013

The Cornbread Gospels

The cookbook section is one of my favorite hangouts in the library, as the world of possibilities on what I can create lie between these thin to thick books.  One recently acquired gem is The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon. Breezy and casual in style, not only does it quickly grab you in with her six years of research, testing and sampling, but also the history of the cuisine. 

Did you know there is a difference between Northern and Southern cornbreads? This intrigued me because I grew up on those white and blue Jiffy boxes in California. To me, that was cornbread-- the little paper muffin that hugged those luscious sweet breads with slathered butter in the middle. To my Deep South husband, it is that cast iron skillet grabbed from the oven devoid of any sweetness, but baked in a seasoned skillet like a flat cake. We are like North and South…at war in what we think of as cornbread.

Cookbook aficionados will rejoice over the many recipe variations of this staple cuisine. Yearning for soulful renditions? Turn to that chapter on page 183. Prefer fritters? Crescent has that covered as well. Got that jiffy box handy and just need recipes of sides to go with cornbread? The author has thought of you as well. Every variation, American and global is included in this paperback nugget on a passionate dish for many.

The stories and narratives the author interweaves between the recipes gives it an intimate style, making this a joy to read. You could as easily keep this on your kitchen table as well as by the living room chair. Before you reach for that cast iron skillet or that  muffin pan,  you might want to check out Ms. Dragonwagon’s (a former restaurant owner turned author) other cookbooks that we own—Bean by Bean and The Passionate Vegetarian.

Tip: The husband claims the Alabama cornbread recipe is his favorite.

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