'A Good Meal Is Hard to Find' is packed with Southern storytelling and good eats
Editor's note : This story was originally published in May, 2020.
Marge starts her days with grapefruit juice spiked with honeysuckle vodka. When Ida goes fishing, she always takes a smoked trout sandwich. Lenore Anne never throws a party without a tray of her Delta hot tamale balls. These fictional Southern eccentrics, almost all women, can be found in “A Good Meal Is Hard to Find” (Chronicle), a new cookbook like no other by artist Amy C. Evans and chef Martha Hall Foose. The only illustrations in the book are Evans' enigmatic paintings, filled with crab claws, rabbit feet, hair pins and jars of Duke's mayonnaise. Before each of Foose’s recipes, like Eliza’s Saltine quail, Ruby’s red-eye gravy or Lena’s coffee shortbread, are vignettes that leave readers hungry to know what happens next.
Foose spoke to The American South about how she and Evans came to write this most unusual cookbook.
The American South: How did you conceive of “A Good Meal Is Hard to Find”?
Martha Hall Foose: We wanted it to be a combination of a picture book, a storybook and a cookbook. And in the same way that Amy's pictures usually only have two or three objects in them, we wanted the stories to be short. You've kind of got to fill in the rest of the story.
AS: When did you realize that Amy's paintings could be the basis for a cookbook?
MHF: I just fell in love with the titles of her paintings, such as "Ethel loves breakfast in bed, too bad she had to make it herself.” That’s an awesome first line of a headnote.
AS: How did you and Evans collaborate? Did the paintings already exist?
MHF: The majority of the paintings already existed. Amy and I corralled ourselves at my family's farmhouse in Pluto, Miss., and sat in the kitchen and conjured up and added more to the backstories of these characters. This one, for example, would never go to the trouble to make a 比特币合约交易地址_合约交homemade pie crust. That one, no way that she would skip corners. Well, this one's obviously allergic to strawberries. They just came to life as characters. Amy and I say the way we worked the painting was a cookie and the recipe was a cookie, and then we came together to make the creamy filling of the headnotes.
AS: Often we talk about food as something that builds community and binds people together. The characters in these vignettes are often eating alone. I don't think we talk enough about the pleasures of eating alone.
MFH: I think there is a lot of pleasure in cooking for yourself. One of my best friends lives by herself. I've always been so impressed that every night, when she makes her supper, she gets her tray, she puts a napkin on it and a little bud vase. I think it is important to do special things for yourself. A lot of cooks give themselves the broken cookie or that first piece of pie that didn't really come out of the pie pan. Sometimes it's important for 比特币合约交易地址_合约交home cooks to get the most beautiful looking petit four. Occasionally, make the nice one for yourself.
News tips? Story ideas? Questions? Call reporter Todd Price at 504-421-1542 or email him at The American South newsletter.