My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Immigrants: we get the job done." (That's a Hamilton reference, y'all.)
Edward Lee veers off in a slightly new direction in this travel memoir that also includes recipes (I really want people to stop calling this a cookbook, it isn't.) He visits places in America that have unique food cultures because of immigrants living there, from Moroccan (and smen, an intriguing fermented butter) in Hartford, Connecticut to a Lebanese community in Mississippi. He even travels through West Virginia with Ronni Lundy, a section I really enjoyed because I have and love her cookbook. He basically invites himself along!
Edward Lee is curious and respectful, and sometimes people don't open up to him right away. His willingness to wait, to keep trying, and keep eating, yields interesting stories (but does not always yield the recipe secrets.) At the end of each section, he includes a few recipes. Sometimes they are pretty close to the food he consumed in the place, and other times it is his spin on it. All of the recipes are in the spirit of what he ate and how it got there, with a little extra bourbon from time to time (once a Kentucky boy....)
I have to admit that I don't expect chefs to be the best writers, but the craft of writing in this book blew me away.
"Paula sits with us for just a few minutes. Her parents still come in to make the kibbeh, she says. No one else can make it right. I can feel the restlessness in her bones that only another chef can truly understand."He moves between a narrative and reflective voice, and offers a focus and respect to food creators that has been long overdue.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me early access through NetGalley. The book doesn't come out until April 17, but I couldn't wait to read it.
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