Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A New Biography of Craig Claiborne

The New York Times Sunday Book Review recently ran a review of a new biography about Craig Claiborne called THE MAN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE EAT (Free Press), by Thomas McNamee. The review, while mentioning Claiborne's southern Mississippian roots, focuses on the years after Claiborne left the South. In fact, the only extended mention of Claiborne's southern heritage is in reference to his relationship with his mother, which ended early in his life when he told her he never wanted to see her again—a promise he kept, missing even her funeral. Her influence, however, was constant. Many of her recipes, and recipes from the kitchens in her Mississippi boardinghouse, found their way into the plethora of Claiborne's cookbooks.

SOUTHERN COOKING, new in paperback this year, not only features his mother's recipes, but is also the only one of Claiborne's cookbooks to focus exclusively on the South. Included are more than three hundred recipes, many of which he introduces with comments and notes about their history, their evolution over the years, and his favorite versions. One of his most personal cookbooks, readers have the opportunity to recreate the smells and tastes of the dishes that littered Claiborne's youth and commenced a lifelong passion for food in the man Jacques Pepin has called "the most important of all food giants."