Former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Braggs grew up in the Deep South. His family members weren’t aristocratic Charlestonians. He didn’t cut his teeth in fancy restaurants in Atlanta, GA. He grew up poor, with oil under his fingernails from fixing his own broken-down cars. His father was a ne’er do well who had almost no role in Braggs’ life except to give him his last name. But he was reared by a loving mother and her poor but kind family, who knew how to love and how to cook, perhaps in that order.
Braggs pays tribute to his upbringing — and his mother in particular — with this combination memoir/cookbook The Best Cook in the World: Tales From My Momma’s Table. Given my love for stories about the South, and my appetite for southern cooking, this book was a dream come true. Braggs writing makes me ashamed to refer to myself as a writer.
I was only a little ways into the library book when I knew I’d have to buy the book using CASH MONEY, something I rarely do these days. While the stories he tells about his extended family are funny and told with such love, it’s the recipes to which I will refer again and again. If it was a paper book I owned, the pages would be tattered.
I loved The Best Cook in the World. While I suspect many of us think those words could refer to our own mothers’ cooking, Braggs use of his mother’s very own words to describe the cooking method gives the reader such a picture of his mother that she could be our mother too.