Buttermilk Graffiti

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

I first knew and loved Edward Lee from Top Chef, and then from his cookbook Smoke & Pickles and his season of The Mind of a Chef TV show. In all cases, he seemed like a brilliant chef and a kind, thoughtful person. This EXCELLENT book confirms that, and then some. I loved his journey through unique (often immigrant) U.S. culinary traditions (including a trip to my homeland of Wisconsin/five-point thesis about why German food is underappreciated!). One of the best of the many food books I’ve read in recent years,, and one I’ll be recommending widely and enthusiastically.
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Cooking...travel...this book has it all.  Edward Lee does a great job of evoking an emotional connection between people and food.  It's not always the taste but the experience you have while sharing it with people.  Lee is as much a chef as he is a writer in this book.  While there are recipes at the end of every chapter this is definitely not a cookbook.  I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in what brings people together in shared experiences.
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Chef, writer, and Emmy Award-nominee Edward Lee has provided a fresh commentary on the idea of the USA as cultural melting pot as seen through the lens of food and the people who cook it, punctuated with delicious recipes inspired by the food he eats en route. It's perceptively written; Lee is particularly good at writing about women and his account of a road trip with the fabulous Appalachia-based food writer Ronni Lundy helps debunk some of the stereotypes about this part of the States. He addresses the gnarly issue of the politics of food, diversity and cultural appropriation, asking who gets to represent a culture's food? There's no easy answer to this, but what Lee does is provide a platform for people to speak about the food that is important to them, and the space it inhabits. It's an on-going conversation about people and the communities most of us are unaware of. As he says about Clarksville in Mississippi (although it could apply to any of the locations), “This is America. Maybe not the white picket fence version we are used to seeing, but the one that exists in every town just beneath the surface, embodied by the diversity in the labour economy."

This review was published in the print edition of the Bury Free Press and other Iliffe Media titles.
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Lee's account of his travels across America and the cuisines that can be found and remixed are interesting and thoughtfully presented. Lee is a good writer as well as a chef-he layers his literary ingredients with much care and artfully presents both recipes and thoughts on paper.
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Don’t dive into Buttermilk Graffiti thinking it’s just a cookbook because it’s so much more. I think the little blurb on the front is a perfect representation of what’s inside. In each section, Edward Lee travels to a different location learning the history of the local food and the culture from which it comes. The connections he made between food and its cultural heritage and how foods change over time here in America was so interesting. I couldn’t put this book down. The recipes seem accessible for a person that knows there way around the kitchen pretty well. I’m excited to add a few of these to my arsenal. However, some of the ingredients would be difficult to obtain if you don’t live near a major city or a fantastic Asian market. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves diversity in food.

Thanks to the publisher for the eARC through NetGalley.
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I will admit that Edward Lee, as chef or author, is not someone I had heard of before. Since I have not yet made any of the recipes in this book, I still can't comment on his ability as a chef but if he is as good at that as he is a documenter of cultures and food, he is superb.
I have always found food to be a window into other worlds and this book more than any I've read recently, transforms the homogenised version of America into its constituent immigrant parts. Edward Lee makes not only the food, but the places he visits evocative, using all the senses to describe the scene, the people, the food and his experience of it.
In a world that increasingly worships celebrity over community, this book reminds us that everyone has a story, that food, identity and culture intermingle, that all of these things change with time and place and that no matter where we come from, that food is a connection between us all.
If I never make one of the recipes, I feel richer for having read the book.
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Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee was an awesome pleasure to read! I absolutely loved everything about this book! It was real. It was human. Culturally enriching. Diverse. Powerful. Expansive. Brilliantly well balanced. My mouth watered. Constantly. I honestly feel as though I've just gleaned some tightly held cooking secrets while having a pretty dope catch up conversation with my friend. 

Lee's anecdotal realness throughout his exploratory search across America for traditional cuisines, provided insight, emotions, a bit of nostalgia and a blasted hankering for every single thing this man had the notion to eat. Buttermilk Graffiti was a really really satisfying read...and I haven't even tried any recipes yet!

This was read with a happy heart from cover to cover and I savored every single word!

I think, too, once you try the recipes in this book, it will probably elevate you from an instablogging foodie to a cook with some mild culinary distinction. Once we embrace (try) the new flavor profiles and become creative with the new to us exotic ingredients list, tweaking each recipe to suit our own palates. It's cool to think of recipes originating from a kitchen half way across the globe, generations ago, but are available here and now to become part of my own kitchen culture. It's cool to think of the way traditions can begin...not just what it takes to continue, carry on or build on one.

This book made me want to lay down some roots, boy. This was solid.

Huge thank you to Artisan Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Edward Lee is a good storyteller. I enjoyed reading about America in food. It truly is a melting pot. There are only a handful of recipes but this is more a "food writings" book anyways.
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If you love storytelling as much as food, this is the book for you.  With an interesting look at different people around the country and their recipes (two of which I have tried: YUM!) this book is the best of both worlds of books and cooking.
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"Immigrants: we get the job done." (That's a Hamilton reference, y'all.)

Edward Lee veers off in a slightly new direction in this travel memoir that also includes recipes (I really want people to stop calling this a cookbook, it isn't.) He visits places in America that have unique food cultures because of immigrants living there, from Moroccan (and smen, an intriguing fermented butter) in Hartford, Connecticut to a Lebanese community in Mississippi. He even travels through West Virginia with Ronni Lundy, a section I really enjoyed because I have and love her cookbook. He basically invites himself along!

Edward Lee is curious and respectful, and sometimes people don't open up to him right away. His willingness to wait, to keep trying, and keep eating, yields interesting stories (but does not always yield the recipe secrets.) At the end of each section, he includes a few recipes. Sometimes they are pretty close to the food he consumed in the place, and other times it is his spin on it. All of the recipes are in the spirit of what he ate and how it got there, with a little extra bourbon from time to time (once a Kentucky boy....)

I have to admit that I don't expect chefs to be the best writers, but the craft of writing in this book blew me away.

    "Paula sits with us for just a few minutes. Her parents still come in to make the kibbeh, she says. No one else can make it right. I can feel the restlessness in her bones that only another chef can truly understand."

He moves between a narrative and reflective voice, and offers a focus and respect to food creators that has been long overdue.
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This is the first cookbook that I’ve ever read cover to cover, like a “regular” book. His stories about the people he met were captivating. I felt like I was sitting at the table with them. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but I will.  Highly recommend!  Will be adding to our shelves.
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Edward Lee travels America, eating the local cuisines and talking to the local cuisine makers. Fifteen years ago, during the Bush/Kerry campaign, I did something similar. I enjoyed this book that triggered some long-forgotten memories of my trip around my country, and everything I learned about it on the way.

Although Lee explains at the beginning of the book that he didn't include pictures of the food so that people wouldn't be discouraged that their attempts didn't look like the pictures of the recipes, I would have loved to see pictures of the restaurants he discovered, and the people he talked to along the way. I understand why he was more interested in sampling the food, and the discussions it provoked, and I'm not a picture person either, but it would have given me a little more connection to the people and places he visited.

This is minor gripe though. In this day and age, it is important to remember our huge, massively diverse country and all the people it encompasses. Buttermilk Graffiti reminds me of that.
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Unfortunately, I was unable to download this (not publisher's fault, doubtless something to do with the way my PC is set up), and it wasn't a Kindle title so couldn't read it that way either. Looking forward to the print edition!
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I very much enjoyed this book as it shows that food as not just being something to eat but it connects us to the culture and people preparing it. Very readable story and excellent recipes.
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Yeah, this is not my kind of cook book and recipes.  I did really enjoy the stories that lead up to the recipe but most of them did not sound  appetizing to me.  I can't see myself making and serving coffee glazed bacon with pickled watermelon and fried peanuts.  Some of the recipes have ingredients that I am not sure how to get or pronounce! 
Another example is salmon with strawberries, dill and pancakes? 
Enjoy a great story book but try the recipes at your own discretion.
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This is not your typical cookbook. Not even close. There are recipes at the end of each chapter but they are just a fraction of what I got out of this book. Instead Chef Edward Lee gave me a glimpse of different cultures that came to this country and the foods that define them and how they have adapted them. Wait, even that is only part of the story. I may never get to taste Chef Lee's food but I am thankful I am able to read his writing! He brings alive the idea of food being a central part of so many culture's lives in a way that makes you want to immediately start cooking his recipes for family and friends and discuss what you just read.
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I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  From the publisher - 
American food is the story of mash-ups. Immigrants arrive, cultures collide, and out of the push-pull come exciting new dishes and flavors. But for Edward Lee, who, like Anthony Bourdain or Gabrielle Hamilton, is as much a writer as he is a chef, that first surprising bite is just the beginning. What about the people behind the food? What about the traditions, the innovations, the memories?
A natural-born storyteller, Lee decided to hit the road and spent two years uncovering fascinating narratives from every corner of the country. There’s a Cambodian couple in Lowell, Massachusetts, and their efforts to re-create the flavors of their lost country. A Uyghur café in New York’s Brighton Beach serves a noodle soup that seems so very familiar and yet so very exotic—one unexpected ingredient opens a window onto an entirely unique culture. A beignet from Café du Monde in New Orleans, as potent as Proust’s madeleine, inspires a narrative that tunnels through time, back to the first Creole cooks, then forward to a Korean rice-flour hoedduck and a beignet dusted with matcha.
Sixteen adventures, sixteen vibrant new chapters in the great evolving story of American cuisine. And forty recipes, created by Lee, that bring these new dishes into our own kitchens.

I love Edward Lee from the Food Network and for his love of bourbon - his last book "Smoke and Pickles" is a definite favourite of mine! He always does the most interesting fusion recipes and this book is chock full of them as he writes of his travels around the country and his discoveries on said trip. Will I attempt any of the recipes? Time will tell...but in the meantime, I recommend this book to any cook or person, like me, who consider cookbooks their porn.  :-)
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