By James T. Farmer III
Gibbs Smith, $35.00, 184 pages
For true Southern cuisine, A Time to Cook is an outstanding cookbook. What will first catch your eyes in this large-format, expensively produced book are the stunning photos—prime examples of superb food photography—illustrating many of the recipes. Luckily for us, James T. Farmer III’s writing is equally good. Every recipe has a headnote telling us something either about the food or about cooking, but also contains something about Southern cooking and the author’s history with the food item. He has frequent half- to full-page notes on many subjects (fried chicken; buttermilk; pound cakes) which are useful and good reading.
“Southern culinary aptitude is a reflection of our heritage from a sundry of cultures.”
The recipes are typical Southern fare, but often with a twist or two from the international repertoire. They are good and mostly simple recipes (iceberg wedge salad; cornbread with peach salsa; coconut cake), easy to follow even for beginner cooks. Many are designed for use with cast ironware. The book designer spared us flipping back and forth through the pages for recipes; each is on a single page. Farmer also added his own tips following many of the recipes. He divided his chapters according to the courses of the meal, ending with a chapter on traditional pickling and preserving.
Reviewed by George Erdosh