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The Most Famous and Cherished Community Cookbooks

A celebration of food and fellowship in the American South.

A collection of recipes is an inspired way for a community to get together, in a manner that—unlike sports contests, musical performances, or religious convocation—doesn’t involve dressing up or arriving on time. We can commune with each other at ease, in that most exciting arena of private life, the kitchen. Though the gathering may be virtual, the discourse that goes on within the pages of a community cookbook says much about who we are (indelibly, we might add) and offers some delicious opportunities for storytelling and public embarrassment.

For many cooks, writing a recipe was the only time they expressed their ways in words. Sharing a recipe is an eminently hospitable thing to do. A recipe can reveal the ways we approach an ordinary day and the ways we esteem once-in-a-lifetime events. Recipes help us define what is Southern. Just as there is no single South, there is no single definition for Southern food or single profile for Southern cooks. Recipes give us a taste, both literally and figuratively, of the many dishes and cooks who, regardless of where they live or where they come from, claim Southern food as their own, whether for a lifetime or a meal time. So let's fix a plate and raise a glass. There's so much to celebrate.

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