Edna Lewis: Place, culture, cuisine

Edna Lewis

If someone borrowed one cup of sugar, they would return two. If someone fell ill, the neighbors would go in and milk the cows, feed the chickens, clean the house, cook the food and come and sit with whoever was sick. I guess rural life conditioned people to cooperate with their neighbors.

That’s Edna Lewis, describing the culture of the small settlement of former slaves in which she grew up. This essay by Francis Lam was my first introduction to Lewis and I can’t wait to read her 1976 book, The Taste of Country Cooking, which weaves together recipes and stories. Lewis went on to share her sharing culture with people throughout the U.S., broadening the definition of Southern food and embodying all things local and seasonal well before it was a thing.