The New South: Three cookbooks challenge Southern stereotypes

Atlanta chefs Eddie Hernandez, Virginia Willis, and Todd Richards each create excellent Southern mash-ups in their new books
Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen

Photograph by Angie Mosier, Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, All rights reserved

Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen
Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen

Photograph by Angie Mosier, Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, All rights reserved

Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen
by Eddie Hernandez with Susan Puckett
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 10

The backstory
Hernandez left his native Mexico for Texas at age 17 barely speaking a word of English. The “born-again Southern boy” went on to open Atlanta’s legendary Taqueria del Sol in 2000 and earned a James Beard nomination for outstanding restaurateur in 2017.

The book, boiled down
“Southern food, I came to realize, is very similar to good Mexican cuisine,” Hernandez writes. ”Southerners make cornbread, Mexicans make corn tortillas. They do pork cracklings, we do chicharrones. They smoke meats, we do barbacoa. Both cuisines are blessed with a huge variety of fresh ingredients.”

Best recipe mash-up
Chicken–Green Chile Potpie in Puffy Tortilla Shells (above)

Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South

Photograph by Angie Mosier, Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, All rights reserved

Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South
Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South

Photograph by Angie Mosier, Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, All rights reserved

Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South
by Virginia Willis
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 1

The backstory
This is the sixth cookbook from the Georgia native and Southern food authority, whose Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard award.

The book, boiled down
“The questions of ownership of Southern cooking are some of the most provocative points in our ongoing struggles over race,” Willis writes.

Best recipe mash-ups
Chicken Larb with Georgia Peanuts (above), inspired by Dee Dee Niyomkul’s version at Tuk Tuk, and Dulce de Leche Pecan Sweet Rolls

 

Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes

Photograph by Victor Protasio, courtesy of Time Inc. Books

Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes
Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes

Photograph by Victor Protasio, courtesy of Time Inc. Books

Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes
by Todd Richards
Oxmoor House, May 22

The backstory
Fed up with notions about the supposed “low quality” of soul food, the two-time James Beard nominee elevated the form at White Oak Kitchen downtown and continues to do so at Richards’ Southern Fried in Krog Street Market.

The book, boiled down
“Greens are ‘supposed to’ have pork; greens are ‘supposed to’ be cooked forever; greens are ‘supposed to’ have potlikker; greens are ‘supposed to’ be all things Black America,” Richards writes. “The reality is that the only thing greens are ‘supposed to’ be is delicious.”

Best recipe mash-up
Collard Green Ramen with Pickled Collard Green Stems (above)

Correction: This story has been amended to reflect that Todd Richards left White Oak Kitchen in late 2016.

This article appears in our April 2018 issue.

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