Pros: Beautifully designed gift book and travelogue
Cons: Some states are not really in the true Southern geographical area
As a former long-time subscriber of Southern Living magazine, I always looked forward to the wonderful recipes and articles about small roadside eateries, many of which, were a relatively short drive from my hometown. When looking for Christmas gifts for my hubby, (who by the way loves to cook) I stumbled upon a real find, Southern Living Off The Eaten Path, subtitled Favorite Southern Dives and 150 Recipes That Made Them Famous; the perfect gift for Southerners who love to cook and cruise.
This beautifully designed 258 page book compiled by critic and humorist Morgan Murphy, is part travelogue and part cookbook, with a forward by novelist and native Alabamian Fannie Flagg. The chapters are divided into 17 Southern states including some states I don't necessarily consider true Southern states including Delaware, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas. The others are all quite obvious. The chapters includes a description of the "best drive" in the state with lots of full color photographs of the scenery and interesting tidbits of information about plants, wildlife, and various other trivia in the area. Each section features several "don't miss" restaurants along with GPS coordinates and photos of the restaurant, with a couple of favorite recipes from each one such as Crawfish Pie from Stinky's Fish Camp in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, Black Eyed Pea Cakes with Cajun Remoulade from B. Matthew's Eatery in Savannah, Georgia, and Mississippi Mud Cake from The Castle Dunleith Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi.
Additional features include Rubbernecker Wonders; a brief insert describing interesting local roadside attractions such as the Gateway arch in St. Louis, Missouri and Stockyard City, a wild west outfitter's paradise in Oklahoma, and a list of food festivals in each state. The last few pages include a handy chart of metric equivalents and an index.
Fannie Flagg truly captures the Southern dining and driving experience in the following excerpt from her foreword:
"Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama my fondest memories are those of driving with my parents on long, warm summer evenings out to our favorite cafes and little out-of-the way, knock-about barbecue joints to get a slice of that special lemon ice box pie, a bowl of turnip greens cooked just the way we liked it, or a wedge of crackling cornbread-and yes, in my case, a big plate of fried green tomatoes... for those of us raised before the invasion of the big impersonal fast-food chains, Off The Easten Path is an answer to our prayers."
The narrative is lively, but the focal points of this book are really the photographs and recipes. I have actually seen some of these restaurants on my travels in the southern states and there are several recipes that I can't wait to sample. I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy driving along the scenic southern routes and sampling the Southern fare. This book is a true feast for the eyes and will stimulate your taste buds as you peruse the recipes and photographs of the many Southern culinary delights therein.
Lean-N'-Mean (498 words)
Many thanks to Stef for promptly adding this to the database