Villas, the former food and wine editor of Town & Country and the author of 12 cookbooks, explores the distinctive cuisine of Southern cooking. Villas sees Southern cookery as the only legitimate cuisine in this county, being on the same level with French and Italian home cooking. His collection spans the entirety of the Southern states, including recipes for such classics as fried chicken, pork barbecue, and grits and greens, and lesser known dishes such as Baked Oysters with Mustard Greens and Bacon, Nashville Turnip Greens with Ham Hock, and Memphis Casserole Cheese Bread. Recipes highlight the abundance of natural food ingredients found in the South as well as the multitude of ethnic influences that contributed to the cuisine's evolution. Chapters include Cocktail and Tea Foods; Soups, Chowders, and Gumbos; Rice and Grits; and Cornbread, Biscuits, Hush Puppies, and Other Breads. Villas also provides helpful sections on equipment, ingredients, special cooking techniques, and a glossary of terms for those unfamiliar with the cuisine. This is a solid primer for those who like comfort food or have an interest in Southern cooking. (Mar.) (Publishers Weekly, February 5, 2007)
Villas, the food and wine editor of Town & Country for many years and author of a dozen other cookbooks, is a Southerner born and bred, and here he returns to the food he knows and loves best. He asserts that Southern cooking, "if only by the sheer number and variety of its dishes developed over the centuries," is a more identifiable regional cuisine than that of any other part of America, and he makes a good case here. He includes recipes for almost 400 beloved traditional dishes, lesser-known indigenous specialties, and contemporary dishes from some of the South's best young chefs, and his lively, opinionated text is both informed and a pleasure to read. An essential purchase for culinary history as well as regional cookery collections. (Library Journal, February 2007)
Already well established as one of America's leading proponents of southern cooking, Villas has produced one of the great definitive volumes on a subject near and dear to the hearts and stomachs of a huge number of Americans. For Villas, southern cooking includes everything from Key West specialties to Cajun and Creole casserole, through Carolina low-country seafood and on up as far as Maryland. To Villas' great credit, he avoids using canned products except for in a very few recipes, such as a North Carolina eggplant casserole. Multiple fried chicken recipes reflect different geographic traditions and so do varieties of biscuits. Cakes, pastries, candies, and other sweets abound. Serious cooks will appreciate the host of pickles and other relishes for canning. A glossary helps the uninitiated rapidly find apt distinctions between angel biscuits and beaten biscuits, between Cajun and Creole cooking, and between a bog and a burgoo. Villas also provides mail-order sources for specialized southern foodstuffs.
—Mark Knoblauch (BookList, February 2007)