Unknown-1Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family is a cookbook in the same way that Eat, Pray, Love is a book about Italy.  These books convey deeply personal journeys of women passionate about what they have seen and learned and who they have become.

Nashville author/songwriter and Vanderbilt professor Alice Randall has teamed up with her daughter Caroline Randall Williams to write Soul Food Love.  Part memoir, part call to arms to healthy eating, part family history – this book is a savory read for even the casual cook.

“Dear” might be my favorite member of the extended family (apart from my friend Alice and her sweet daughter), as she “rarely cooked.  She appeared to cook.”  “Dear’s Sweet Forgiveness” – involving a healthy amount of St. Germain – might be the most beautiful recipe in the collection.  Then again, I feel a real affinity for Nana, whose cookbook collection numbered more than a thousand:  “[s]he defined her kitchen not by the dishes she cooked but by the pages she owned, and pages she read.”  Dear was born in 1897 in Alabama.  Nana was born in 1927 in New York.  These women and others speak powerfully across time and place in the gentle hands of Alice and Caroline.

Friend of Bacon Nicki Pendleton Wood has written a gorgeous review at Chapter16.org.  A savvy food writer and cookbook author herself, Nicki observed things I didn’t.  For instance, she notices that “[a] handful of Nashville restaurant recipes appear in Soul Food Love.  Broccoli with Peanuts and Raisins comes from City House; caterer Martha Stamps’s roast-lamb recipe is here, and so is an Eggplant and White Bean Tower from Fido.  Notably absent from the collection is a traditional recipe for Nashville hot chicken, but Williams isn’t about to fall for fried food: ‘Fried chicken is a bad boyfriend.  Time to get that so-and-so out of your house.’  Instead she offers a spicy, garlicky roast chicken, roasted to a crisp and menacingly red with cayenne.”

Alice and Caroline will introduce Soul Food Love this Saturday at 2:00 at the Downtown Public Library, where they are speaking and signing books as part of the Salon@615 series. To reserve tickets in advance, please click here.  You can also take your chances on a seat by arriving at 1:30.  I hope to see you there!

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