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KINDLE » The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table º Margaret Bragg does not own a single cookbook She measures in dabs and smidgens and tads and you know, hon, just some She cannot be pinned down on how long to bake corn bread abouttominutes, depending on the mysteries of your oven Her notion of farm to table is a flatbed truck But she can tell you the secrets to perfect mashed potatoes, corn pudding, redeye gravy, pinto beans and hambone, stewed cabbage, short ribs, chicken and dressing, biscuits and butter rolls The irresistible stories in this audiobook are of long memory many of them pre date the Civil War, handed down skillet by skillet, from one generation of Braggs to the next In The Best Cook in the World,Rick Bragg finally preserves his heritage by telling the stories that framed his mother s cooking and education, from childhood into old age I lightly read this book and gave it four stars then ordered the audio I finished listening yesterday just before arriving at a yearly camping trip at Gold Lake, CA My friend met me at my car and I said I just finished the best book and burst into tears I then said it s a cook book at which point we both laughed I cannot remember ever being so moved by a cook book I laughed and cried So far I have made the creamed onions, slaw and short ribs and will make them all again. It s funny how it s the little things in life that mean the mostNot where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothesThere s no dollar sign on a piece of mind this I ve come to knowSo if you agree have a drink with meRaise you glasses for a toastTo a little bit of chicken fried And cold beer on a Friday nightA pair of jeans that fit just rightAnd the radio upI like to see the sunriseSee the love in my woman s eyesFeel the touch of a precious childAnd know a mother s loveChickeIt s funny how it s the little things in life that mean the mostNot where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothesThere s no dollar sign on a piece of mind this I ve come to knowSo if you agree have a drink with meRaise you glasses for a toastTo a little bit of chicken fried And cold beer on a Friday nightA pair of jeans that fit just rightAnd the radio upI like to see the sunriseSee the love in my woman s eyesFeel the touch of a precious childAnd know a mother s loveChicken Fried, Zac Brown Band, Songwriters Wyatt Durrette Zac BrownNot quite two years ago, I read Bragg s All Over But the Shoutinand last year I followed that up with his Ava s Man, and loved both of those memoirs I do still plan to read The Prince of Frogtown but I managed to be first in line for this one from my library, so I read it while I had the chance To think of this as a cookbook would be less than accurate, although it does contain many recipes, this is a memoir told through stories that convey the joy and hardships that this rather extended family goes through Maybe joy isn t really enough, since some of their adventures are side splittingly entertaining, and some are touching, and some reminded me of stories my father told me Still, just as in life, food is always better when surrounded by family and friends and those stories that live on from one generation to the next And that s what these recipes are, surrounded by stories, included in stories, sometimes it s hard to tell whether the recipes are injected into the stories or the stories are told to better understand their place in family lore Food can be prepared as a gesture of love, or given as a prize awarded for a task well done, it can be partaken of in simple, utilitarian need and the object of delight, and it can be a reminder of other times, and other people In darker times, when need overwhelmed their cupboards, there are stories of men fishing for river catfish with their bare hands, what they called noodling, follow And what a picture that must have been Living in a time and in areas mostly undisturbed by progress, these recipes don t have any calories assigned to them Chances are if you need to know, then you might want to look elsewhere if you re just looking for recipes Most of the recipes included won t be found in any heart healthy sections, there s a lot of bacon grease, and Crisco, cracklin meat, grease but then most of these recipes got their start years before any of us were born, some are from Civil War era, and others from around the time of the Great Depression Poverty abounded then and there, but poverty is stillthan abundant in plenty of places on this planet Reading this is trulyabout the association of memories with the food we were served by our family, that we prepared and cooked with our families through the years, and how those memories are shaped by that food, and as years pass, that food is also shaped by those memories.I loved this, not as much for each recipe, but Margaret Bragg, the author s mother, cooks the way my father and my grandmother cooked, all from memory, by weight and feel and a smidgen of this and a dash of that It felt like being in my grandmother s tiny kitchen making bread beside her She knew when a thing was done by the look or the smell Bragg made me feel as I was there, if not a part of the family, then a warmly welcomed guest.Don t make the mistake of not reading the recipes, skip over the ingredients if you must, but there are some lovely gems of wisdom and love in the sharing of those stories, even some having to do with cookingUse brown eggs when you can get em, she warns They relike real eggs Rick Bragg shares his love of his family, quirks and all, their stories, and his mother s recipes from fried chicken to roasted possum to pecan pie There s a sense of love in his amusement, pride in these stories of generations, reverence to a way of life and love.RecommendedMany thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book I don t know when I have ever enjoyed a bookJust sheer pleasure every time I opened the covers I read this one as my bedtime book for a couple of weeks and looked forward to the hour or so spent with Rick Bragg s people, as he likes to call them.Of course, it was a no brainer that I would love it It combines memoir with food and recipes, Rick Bragg s wonderful prose and humor, great people, past and present, and family pictures His family is a large cussin , fightin , drinkin , God f I don t know when I have ever enjoyed a bookJust sheer pleasure every time I opened the covers I read this one as my bedtime book for a couple of weeks and looked forward to the hour or so spent with Rick Bragg s people, as he likes to call them.Of course, it was a no brainer that I would love it It combines memoir with food and recipes, Rick Bragg s wonderful prose and humor, great people, past and present, and family pictures His family is a large cussin , fightin , drinkin , God fearin , cookin , eatin , hell raising bunch of southerners, and he loves them all with a fierceness we don t usually see in memoirs No traumatizing dysfunctional excuse for unhappiness here he loves these people and all their craziness, and portrays them with gentleness and humor.And the recipes This is the way my family cooked and ate, back before food was something to be feared and regulated There is lard and butter and bacon grease galore, because those things elevate plain country food to manna from heaven When food was to fill your belly and give you a little pleasure two or three times a day, in between working and trying to pay the rent Most of us don t eat that way any, but then most of us don t work that hard any either I miss those days, but it was nice to relive them in these pages.And it was nice to get to know Grandma Ava, Grandpa Charlie, all the aunts and uncles, with a special shout out to Aunt Juanita, my kind of woman And of course, Mama These are her recipes, never written down, but handed down through the years There is even a recipe here for possum, which Mama hates and won t eat, but Aunt Juanita claims it cured her stomach ulcers years ago, after she ate a whole possum all by herself.I did love this book and these people, and this goes on my favorite shelf My only mistake here was getting this from the library Taking it back will be a little like turning the whole family into Social Services I ll have to buy a copy now, put it on my shelf, and give this family a permanent home This book was an absolute delight Rick Bragg writes lovingly about his mother and her southern cooking and shares amazing stories about his wackadoo family.I listened to this book on audio, read by Bragg himself, and I highly recommend it He has a charming narration and I found the book positively soothing This was the first Bragg book I ve read, but I loved it so much I ve already requested his other works from the library.Highly recommended for readers who like foodie memoirs or tales of so This book was an absolute delight Rick Bragg writes lovingly about his mother and her southern cooking and shares amazing stories about his wackadoo family.I listened to this book on audio, read by Bragg himself, and I highly recommend it He has a charming narration and I found the book positively soothing This was the first Bragg book I ve read, but I loved it so much I ve already requested his other works from the library.Highly recommended for readers who like foodie memoirs or tales of southern life.Opening Passage Since she was eleven years old, even if all she had to work with was neck bones, peppergrass, or poke salad, she put good food on a plate She cooked for dead broke uncles, hungover brothers, shade tree mechanics, faith healers, dice shooters, hairdressers, pipe fitters, crop dusters, high steel walkers, and well diggers She cooked for ironworkers, Avon ladies, highway patrolman, sweatshop seamstresses, fortune tellers, coal haulers, dirt track daredevils, and dime store girls She cooked for lost souls stumbling home from Aunt Hattie s beer joint, and for singing cowboys on the AM radio She cooked, in her first eighty years,than seventy thousand meals, as basic as hot buttered biscuits with pear preserves or muscadine jelly, as exotic as tender braised beef tripe in white milk gravy, in kitchens where the only ventilation was the banging of the screen door She cooked for people she d just as soon have poisoned, and for the loves of her life