The Best Cook in the World

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

Mr. Bragg brings the life and times-and recipes of his beloved mother to vivid life in this biographical telling of his mother's life. The food and recipes are an integral part of her (and his) story, making the reader's mouth water even as the pages are turned and the words are savored. A very enjoyable read.
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It's hard to write a review for this kind of book, because it's hard to find the words to accurately express it's beauty. Saying that I enjoyed this book, or even loved this book doesn't do it justice.  Bragg weaves family, culture, religion, food, love and more into this. Reading about the regional differences of food from the area versus my own experiences was humbling. Beautiful, beautiful read.
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We have several books by Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Bragg in our collection so I thought I would pick up his latest, THE BEST COOK IN THE WORLD which received starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal. Once again, Bragg's writing skills are clearly evident, even if he is quite self-deprecating about his own cooking ability.  Here, he relates "Tales from My Momma's Table," praising his mother's talents in the kitchen and evoking numerous images of life in rural Alabama. Unfortunately, I believe that it will probably be of limited interest for our students, although fans of locally sourced and more natural foods or of Southern cuisine may want to experiment with some of his unique recipes involving greens, grits, and even snapping turtle.
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Anyone who has read any of Rick Bragg's books knows he loves his mama.  The stories and recipes in The Best Cook in the World flow together and mingle with my own memories of food and family.  Food and family are pillars of Southern culture.  Rick Bragg has given us a book to savor and to taste.
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Rick Bragg turns his eye to his mama's cooking, and the result will make you laugh out loud. I don't know that I'll be trying any of the recipes soon, but it's written with love and a savvy eye
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Rick Bragg relates family stories as he shares some of his mother's recipes. His mother, like most Southern cooks of that generation, did not follow recipes. She cooked by eyeballing things and getting the ratio correct based on practice. The family stories needed editing. They failed to draw me in, partly because of excess verbiage and lack of action verbs. Most recipes can be found in other Southern regional cookbooks. In the electronic advance copy, the recipe's conclusion often bumps into text following it, making it difficult for readers. The distinction between the recipe and stories about the recipe needs more separation as well. Perhaps his identification of his mother as the best cook in the world elicits the most contentious point of the book. Why? Because my mom in the neighboring state of Mississippi earned that honor. I received an advance electronic copy of the book through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.
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OMG! I loved this book! From Rick Bragg's engaging and amazingly readable prose to his family's endearing, funny, and (sometimes) shocking stories to the wonderful recipes that I can't wait to try, this is a great book. Part memoir, part homage to his mother, this is a great addition to Bragg's story that began with All Over but the Shoutin'. His dysfunctional family has produced an amazing writer. Read this book AND try the recipes!
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Thanks to Netgalley for letting me read this early. 
This was the first Rick Bragg book I've read. And I can't wait to read more.  Loved the inside look into this family by memories and recipes. Loved all the recipes, because I know they are family, shared over the years, just like some of my favorite recipes.
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I have put off writing a review of this book, because I have found it hard to find the right words. To say I loved it just does not portray the feelings I have for this memory of family and food. Except for a few regional differences, these are the recipes of my North Carolina family, and these are their experiences. Every  photographs, with so many appearing to be made in those old carnival photo booths, touched my heart.

 I cried over turtle stews as I recalled my uncle once a year firing up the pit in a field behind our house, and all those long gone  men passing the jar and waiting for their bowls. I remembered my grandma packing her brown paper bag and threatening to go back to live at the old house, if my grandpa didn't go over  and get her woodstove and get shed of that new electric stove. 

There are few books that a reader can live in, but this is one. Especially, if you are a Southerner of textile or tenant farming descent, don't miss this one. Thank you, thank you, Rick Bragg.
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I received this as an advanced readers copy from NetGalley and it’s my first book by Rick Bragg. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I already read a couple of his earlier books and been familiar with his family.  The first half of the book moved around in time and left me uncertain if I was reading about Ava or Margaret since he didn’t use their names.  And for that reason the second half of the book was far more enjoyable - I finally knew who I was reading about and I am in awe of their resourcefulness.

My running partner had read All Over but the Shoutin’ years ago and told me that I absolutely had to read it!  I didn’t follow up but I will now.  I became interested in the South ever since reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance which I followed up with Paul Theroux’s Deep South and Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam.  I realize there is an entire quadrant of our County that I am ignorant of and I appreciated the travel through time of the Bragg’s Hill People of Alabama and Georgia who are loving and loyal to a fault.  

My great grandparents moved to Washington State from Missouri when my grandmother was three.  My great grandmother was a Southern cook and she taught my grandmother and mother, both who cooked for a living like Margaret.  Many of recipes in the book are familiar and I wrote some down, since the instructions I received from my grandmother were more like “butter the size of a walnut” and a “pinch.”  Maybe I can finally wow someone with my Deviled Eggs.
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Journalist Rick Bragg once again gives readers an inside view of his Southern family by way of their rich relationship with food and cooking.  For this New Englander, Bragg's story brings the foreign Southern culture to life.  At the same time, common threads are clear, such as the clever and creative responses by rural women everywhere to extreme poverty.  With good humor and affection, Bragg relates family legends and memories, mostly through the lens of his mother's recollections.  Even for this non-cook, the narrative is fascinating, heartwarming, and perhaps inspiring enough for me to attempt some recipes.
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Every family has its own stories and memories that go down in family history and is passed on in family memory to the next generation. Cooking is done the same way from parent to child, from the knowledgeable to those needing instruction. Sometimes the two are intertwined and  recipes are deeply embedded in family history..Mr. Bragg has a lovely mother with firm opinions on life and cooking who needs a legacy in this world. It looks like her two boys are not meant for cooking. Remembering family stories but not cooking.
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Rick Bragg shares more of his family's story in The Best Cook in the World. For those that met Ava and Charlie in his earlier works, Bragg once again brings his grandparents to life through the recipes and tales that accompany them. We learn more about other members of the family, especially his dear momma.

With wit and humor, Bragg paints a picture of the times and trials of his people during the depression, the tough times, and the many great meals that were shared with family.

If you enjoy his contributions to magazines like Southern Living, or read his previous books, you will definitely not want to miss this one. If you are new to Rick Bragg's work, you will fall in love with his family, and his style of writing.
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I may be just a little bit prejudiced, because Rick is my cousin, but this is a great book. Reading it, I could hear the voices of my grandmother's family in my head."The Best Cook in the World" is part cookbook, part memoir, and all about a time in North Alabama that is fading fast. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I can promise you they'll be good. Women with that blood make fine cooks.
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I loved this book.  Rick Bragg's great descriptions of his mom and family intermixed with stick to your ribs lip smackin recipes!
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