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The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table
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The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  683 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
From the beloved, best-selling author of All Over but the Shoutin', a delectable, rollicking food memoir, cookbook, and loving tribute to a region, a vanishing history, a family, and, especially, to his mother.

Margaret Bragg does not own a single cookbook. She measures in "dabs" and "smidgens" and "tads" and "you know, hon, just some." She cannot be pinned down on how long
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Published April 24th 2018 by Books on Tape
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”It's funny how it's the little things in life that mean the most
Not where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothes
There's no dollar sign on a piece of mind this I've come to know
So if you agree have a drink with me
Raise you glasses for a toast
To a little bit of chicken fried

“And cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up
I like to see the sunrise
See the love in my woman's eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother's love”

Diane Barnes
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I don't know when I have ever enjoyed a book more. Just sheer pleasure every time I opened the covers. I read this one as my "bedtime book" for a couple of weeks and looked forward to the hour or so spent with Rick Bragg's people, as he likes to call them.

Of course, it was a no-brainer that I would love it. It combines memoir with food and recipes, Rick Bragg's wonderful prose and humor, great people, past and present, and family pictures. His family is a large cussin', fightin', drinkin', God-f
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of food lit
Finished this with some difficulty because it was too long. I'd recommend that it be read over a short period of time. If it would have been 200 pages shorter it would have had more power. That being said it was an interesting read mixing family stories and simple classic southern recipes.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 the ...more
My favorite author. The only one I buy while they are still warm from the presses and keep to read again. I love this guy's family. The author tells about his grandmother and mother, who make old-fashioned southern cooking. These are not health conscious recipes. As a matter of fact, grease and fat factor heavily into most of the recipes. Each chapter tells a story pertaining to his favorite foods and then at the end of the chapter are the recipes. It is worth reading the entire recipe, as he wr ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bragg is a delicious mix of Twain, Steinbeck, Faulkner, and Robert Frost. I especially love when he writes about his big southern family that frequently reminds me of my own grandparents and great aunts and uncles who grew up in the South. They brought many of the southern traditions and recipes with them when they all made their way to California during the Depression. Some of our best times together were spent gathered around the table, eating, poking fun at one another, and laughing ourselves ...more
Sue Em
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Storytelling at its greatest. Each chapter limns the hardscrabble lives of his kin in Alabama through love and food with stories and recipes. A chapter or two each night was a perfect cap to my day. For lovers of Southern writing and Southern food.
Susan Kendrick
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think this is a five star for everyone, but it is for me. It’s awfully long and a funny sort of hybrid cookbook and memoir. But I love the way that Rick Bragg writes, and if he wants to take his time and write a big fat book of memories and recipes, I’m ok with that.

It doesn’t hurt that I’m from Alabama and feel a connection to the land and the tradition he describes, though perhaps his people would call me “rich folks”, being from the fancy big city of Birmingham and all.

But I can’t h
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
OMG, to ME, this is the best book in the world. I'm currently listening to the audio version, read by the author, and am on chapter 32. I have never had quite this experience with a book before, where I look forward to my daily 32-mile-each-way commute, just so I can keep listening!

This book is 95% hilarious family stories from long bygone eras, and 5% recipes (which you may or may not want to ever make). This book is: Genealogist meets Storyteller meets Hillbilly.

It's a record of times and pl
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 te ...more
Martha Avans
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I lightly read this book and gave it four stars then ordered the audio. I finished listening yesterday just before arriving at a yearly camping trip at Gold Lake, CA. My friend met me at my car and I said I just finished the best book then burst into tears and then I said "it's a cook book" at which point we both laughed. I cannot remember ever being so moved by a cook book; I laughed and cried. So far I have made the creamed onions, slaw and short ribs and will make them all again.
Amy Booth
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book brought back so many great memories of helping my Mamaw make biscuits(without a recipe, of course) and of sitting in the swing with my Nanny while she told me stories about “back home”, never using anyone’s given name. Braggs is an excellent storyteller; I found myself crying over a recipe for green beans with potatoes!
This is a book to visit and revisit. Lots of down-home wisdom and more cooking advice than you can imagine.

The past is where we go when we are helpless; the past, no matter what the psychiatrists say, can’t really hurt you much more than it already has, not like the future, which comes at you like a train around a blind curve.
Marjorie Elwood
This started off promisingly, with fascinating stories about the author's family and life in the South, as well as mouth-watering recipes (butter rolls, buttermilk pie, real biscuits, deviled eggs). Unfortunately, it could have used some editing and tightening up as it dragged on a bit.
Diane Ferbrache
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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!

Thank you, NetGalley, for letting me read this book!
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rick Bragg's love for his mama comes through again in this homage to her cooking. The family stories are at once familiar, and comforting. I've got deep southern roots and his family's stories made me laugh and nod more than once. As a mother of three boys, I laughed so hard at some of the antics of his uncles, siblings, and his own as things my own sons have or easily could have done. When I wasn't laughing I was drooling as the recipes were echoes of my Oma and Mamaw's cooking. When he talked ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I did the audio version and it was a pleasure to hear the author read. I bought a copy of the book for my mom and will probably purchase another for myself. The book reminded me of my childhood and all of the holidays, summer meals of fresh vegetables, and every other occasion that called for a big meal— like Sundays. Mostly it made me miss my mom and it frequently made me pretty hungry.
Susan Liston
I really enjoyed the first part of this, about Momma and down home Southern cooking in the good old days, but it did go on way too long, and I felt bad that I started to get tired of it. A little bit of people named Jimmy Jim goes a long way. Edit out about half of the stories and you would have a fun, snappy little book. A lot of the recipes are guessed at or approximated, because Momma never even owned a measuring cup, but they are interesting to read. And I suppose an experienced cook doesn't ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Just my kind of book! I don't cook that much myself, but I LOVE to read cookbooks, especially ones with good stories. I listened to to the audio version at 1.25 speed since the author is a slow talking Southerner. I also looked at the Kindle version to see the photos & recipes.
May 02, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-new
Jul 12, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is truly a wonderful read but I'm putting it back on the shelf for now. I'm distracted by too many other books at the moment. I may visit this one again in the fall or winter.
Rebecca Elswick
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I buy all of Rick Bragg's books on audio because he is the person who reads them. They come to life with his voice and if you haven't heard him read his stories then you are missing a fantastic experience. When I listened to Rick's "My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South" I often drove past my driveway! After work, I would go to pick up a pizza only to "wake up" at home forgetting to stop! His stories cast a spell and when he's reading them, it is a strong one so watch out ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read an advanced reader copy, this book is out in March of 2018 I believe.

Ricky Bragg is a true southern storyteller and this book blends his tales and stories of his family with generations of recipes. From fried chicken to roasted possum with sweet potatoes, it’s all here. It’s all funny, reverent and irreverent. My favorite stories revolved around Grandma Ava and Cousin Sis. The simple recipes for slaw or meatloaf or bbq sauce my favorites. Gentler and more loving than Bragg’s other books
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Rick Bragg has become a legendary storyteller in his own right. With a knack for words and the right amount of humor, he has a way of shaping a story to make it belong to his readers.

His newest release is a perfect mix of food memoir, cookbook, tall tales, family history, Southern culture, and a love story to the South itself. If you’ve read any previous autobiographical books by Bragg, you’ll know that he loves and respects his momma Margaret and is also a proud son of the South. This book furt
Dan Smith
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have always been interested in how people were raised in the south, especially in the poor regions. It has always fascinated me that those people, who were mostly uneducated, survived with the grit and determination of someone who was knowledgeable about solutions. This book is a story of just that magnitude. Sometimes serious, but most of the time light and funny about the survival and how the authors mom learned to cook for her family, But it goes even deeper-Storys of "his people".

Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Rick Bragg's writing. I have read several of his books and heard him speak a couple of times at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. I love his humor and the love he has of his mother. I marvel at how he has navigated life -- considering the father he had (but that's another book). This book pays tribute to his mother's cooking. I heard someone comment recently that it was a quick read because you didn't have to read the recipes. I beg to differ. The story is in the recipes. His m ...more
Kay Wright
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Never heard of Rick Bragg, just a mention on NPR about his newest book, a cookbook with his mother’s “recipes” so I picked it up in the library. A full 500 pages it takes time but it’s well worth it. Included are many pages are pictures of a surprisingly appealing family. The only person missing and desired is one of Sis, an aunt apparently as big and strong as a redwood who cooked like an angel. And made men quiver in their boots when she got mad. Once mad enough to shoot her husband in the tee ...more
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Rick Bragg is the Pulitzer Prize winning writer of best-selling and critically acclaimed books on the people of the foothills of the Appalachians, All Over but the Shoutin, Ava's Man, and The Prince of Frogtown.

Bragg, a native of Calhoun County, Alabama, calls these books the proudest examples of his writing life, what historians and critics have described as heart-breaking anthems of people usual
More about Rick Bragg
“...we do like to grind the rough edges off the dead down here.” 1 likes
“I think it may be fine to live in the past if that is where your people have all disappeared to - if that is a place where things still make some kind of sense to you.” 0 likes
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