Cookbooks that tell stories are a favorite of mine.

The Painted Fish and Other Mayan Feasts by Sonja Lillvik (broadcast 8-16-2010) This cookbook offers a joyous and colorful introduction to Mayan culture and cuisine, “an edible memoir from the back roads and beaches of the Yucutan”.  From learning how to make a steel drum stove to how to deal with the heat of habaneros, paint a fish and more Lillvik takes the reader, and the cook, on a tasty journey.  Find out more at

Chefs of the Triangle Their Lives, Recipes, and Restaurants by Ann Prospero.  (broadcast 9-28-2009) No less an authority than Bon Appetit has called NC’s Triangle area the “foodiest” place in America.  The Triangle even has a culinary bus tour.  Ann offers us the stories and recipes of 34 leading local chefs in this delicious collection.  Find out more at //

Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed with William McKinney. (broadcast 6-29-2009) North Carolina is home to the longest continuous barbecue tradition on the North American mainland. Authoritative, spirited, and opinionated (in the best way), Holy Smoke is a passionate exploration of the lore, recipes, traditions, and people who have helped shape North Carolina’s signature slow-food dish.  Find out more at

A Love Affair with Southern Cooking by Jean Anderson. (broadcast 9-22-2008) There are 200 classic and contemporary, plain and fancy, familiar and unfamiliar  mouth watering and tempting recipes in this well-storied cookbook.  They all come with a tale to introduce the cook behind the recipe and to sometimes share some backstairs gossip or explain the origins of colorful names like Pine Bar k Stew, Chicken Bog and Surry County Sonker.  Anderson also shares the backstories on Southern brands such as Pepsi-Cola, Jack Daniel’s, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Tabasco Sauce and more.  Find out more at

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