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meatless monday: purée of yellow squash soup

July 18, 2011

If I had to pick a favorite cookbook, I would be hard pressed, to say the least. I would mention the Pioneer Woman and her fantastic cookbook. I would naturally give my regards to Julia Child. I would talk about the Lee brothers and the Southern cooking they so beautifully represent. But I would always come back to The Gift of Southern Cooking. Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, two of the greatest cooks of the South, coming together to bring a South I do not know to a table I wish I could share with them.

I would say that they lend dignity to the South. But they don’t.

They simply illuminate it, in touching vignettes that are fading from a generation’s memory. It’s a South I’d like to see. It’s a South, despite living within it my entire life, I never will. Granted, it’s still tucked away in small corners, in back alleys of compact cities, in untouched streams and in backyard gardens. I’ve glimpsed it, just a few times.

Mostly in Virginia, the land that I love. But also in North Carolina. Texas, even; imagine that.

But it’s going, quickly now, chased away by a sort of Northern progress that isn’t Northern anymore. It’s one, amalgamated, societies and ways of life bleeding into one another until there is no beauty of discovery. No delight in finding your place. 

It’s progressive. It’s tidy. It’s largely successful.

But it is not the South of Edna Lewis. And that it a South I want to visit.

Fortunately, though many cookbooks in general, but The Gift in particular, I can. And I have, over and over.

Here is one of my favorite recipes from the book, a mild-mannered summer soup that is a summer staple. It is so simple and so incredibly good that I have fed it to nearly everyone who comes within a mile of me in squash season. And I have yet to have a single person (including my vehemently squash-hating little brother) dislike it.

I think that is what is generally considered a Southern girl’s success story.


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