This is my first post in quite a while and I apologize. I’ve edited 30+ magazine articles, written 12 more articles myself, and finished writing my cookbook! Anyway, I wanted to share with you the Introduction, which follows.
From Theresa (T. Jensen Lacey)
I first began writing this cookbook in 1982, scrawling stories and recipes in a University of Alabama Supe Store notebook left over from one of my classes I was taking back then. In those years, groceries cost me and my roommate about $70 a week for both of us, gas was about 53 cents a gallon and I bought a used car with a hole in the radiator for $100 (I had to refill the radiator to get back home from classes). Back then, I was just making notes of recipes, which were really observations from watching my grandmother and great-aunts and -uncles cook in the kitchen or on the grill. None of them had anything resembling a cookbook, had never had one, and scoffed at anyone suggesting they either go by or write down a recipe.
My friend Rick Bragg was the one who gave me the push to get this cookbook finalized. Over the years, I had been to virtually every one of his readings and signings, and once he even invited me to sit with him up on the stage (The Venue, Fairhope, 2019). It was this night he read from his newly-released book, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table (2018, Knopf). Hearing his words from the Introduction, I was suddenly transported to his momma’s kitchen:
She cooked for dead-broke uncles, hungover brothers, shadetree mechanics, faith healers, dice shooters, hairdressers, pipe fitters, crop dusters, high-steel walkers, and well diggers.
and later, on the next page, the words that hit me, as they say, “where I lived”:
She cooked with ghosts at her sure right hand.
That was when I knew I needed to get on paper and in a book some of my people’s recipes, and a few memories to go with them if I could remember them. As I wrote at the keyboard, my own people’s ghosts beside me, I knew I was writing something that would be important to the people I’d be leaving behind, maybe some people not even born yet and whom I would never meet, but they’d read these pages and maybe try a recipe or two, and make the circle complete.
It was in the fall of 2021 that Rick was in town again (but keeping his distance due to COVID), doing a reading of his book Speckled Beauty, a dog that he said he hated but in truth it turned out to be a love story of a sort. When he was leaving Page & Palette (the bookstore), out on the sidewalk I hailed him and thanked him for inspiring me to finish this cookbook, which now covers several generations. He just smiled, said “I’m glad to know that,” and got in his car to leave town.
–That’s it! Let me know what you think. I will post another blog when the book is available for purchase! Thanks for reading, and for your continued loyalty.