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)