I've got a few cookbooks. OK, that's bullshit. I've got more cookbooks than a Barnes and Noble. Period. AND, I've read most of them. So, suffice it to say, I've 'been around the block' with regards to cookbooks. I have my favorites and it's not easy to break into that group.(it's surprisingly small) Yes, I've got all the Ducasse books....Helene Darroze? Check. Anne Sophie Pic? Check. Herve This?(are they cookbooks or science books....) Check. Pierre Herme? Check. So, what are my favorites? If you knew me, you'd know.
When I first started cooking I was inspired by one book. Patrick O'Connell's Inn at Little Washington Cookbook. Not surprisingly, I ended up cooking there and learning the daily 'in's and out's' that went into building the nuts and bolts behind that book. That singular book drove me in the early years of my career.
Now, many years removed from my time at The Inn at Little Washington, I'm back in Hanover, the town where I grew up, and I'm trying to build a sense of regional cuisine that people from all over the US and abroad can identify as truly 'of our area'. Promoting the terroir, if you will.
A book landed on my doorstep this morning that has touched me in a way that no other book has in many years. Yes, I've read this hot book or that celebrity chef book, but nothing has moved me as much as this book. It's the closest thing that I've experienced since I opened the cover of Patrick's book nine years ago.
Sam Beall has created a cookbook that, although I'm not even close to finishing, provides an instant 'sense of place' and transports the reader to the east Tennesse foothills that he obviously loves so much. This book takes you there. Makes you want to eat the food of the foothills and does so by telling such an amazing story.
I've not really started to 'dig in' to this book, but I will say this: It's already speaking to me.
America is blessed with a diverse culture, which has spawned an amazing array of regional cuisines; many of which we are still waiting to discover in their contemporary iteration. It doesn't matter if it's Creole, Southwestern, Tennessee Foothills or wonderful central Pennsylvania. Each has its spokesperson and leader and with this book Sam Beall has transported me to east Tennessee.
Do yourself a favor and BUY THIS BOOK.
Disclaimer: I've never met Sam Beall. Have only visited Blackberry Farm once for about 30 minutes. Am getting no compensation for this post. THE BOOK IS JUST THAT GOOD. However, if as a result of this post, someone from Blackberry Farm would like to invite me to do a guest chef dinner at said property....I'd certainly have to give it some consideration. :-)