A Good Meal is Hard to Find Cookbook Review

A Good Meal is Hard to Find Cookbook Review

Title: A Good Meal Is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South
Author: Amy C. Evans, Martha Hall Foose
Published: April 28, 2020, Chronicle Books
No. of Pages: 160
Cover Price: $24.95 Hardcover, $9.99 Kindle

Southern recipes seem to appeal to almost everyone, no matter where they are from, and A Good Meal Is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South is one of those cookbooks that has instant appeal. It’s full of unique recipes and vignettes that are delightful. Amy C. Evans and award-winning cookbook author, Martha Hall Foose, have teamed up to create what could be a delightful cookbook. Evans is an artist and storyteller, and her bio doesn’t mention cook, so I assume she is the main author behind the format of the recipes in this cookbook. Unfortunately, there are two negative aspects that make this a no-go for me.

Negative #1: The recipes are written in an unconventional way rather than what has been the accepted standard through the years, i.e., rather than “add the flour,” it says, “add “your” flour.” How do they know it is my flour – it might be a neighbor’s, or my daughter’s? Obviously whoever wrote the recipes hasn’t had much experience in the fine art of recipe writing and hasn’t done her homework.

Foose has previously written an award-winning cookbook (that is excellent, by the way), and the recipes are written the time-honored, correct way. Why she ever agreed to put her name on a book with recipes written in such an amateurish way is unknown. For those who cook from cookbooks, this is highly irritating. Non-cooks, and those who don’t have much experience in using cookbooks may find nothing wrong with this format, but those of us who have some experience expect to follow recipes that are correctly written. To me, assuming all of the ingredients, ovens, bowls, etc. are mine is stupid, and is about as enjoyable as fingernails on a chalkboard. Incidentally, while the recipes generally use “your,” they are inconsistent, and use conventional jargon in parts of the recipes.

Negative #2: There are no photographs. There are dozens of charming illustrations, but nothing to let readers and cooks know what the finished dishes are supposed to look like. Granted, this cookbook contains retro recipes from a time when photos weren’t the norm, but with modern technology, there is no excuse for the lack of them.

All told, this is a cute book; the stories are fun, and the recipes are nice. But for me, the negatives outweigh the positives, and I would prefer to skip this one rather than let the poorly written recipes, that assume the ingredients are all mine, get on my nerves. I’ll stick with Foose’s previous cookbook that has great recipes that are easy to follow.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.

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