Culinary History Collection


Current Editor: Cynthia D. Bertelsen

Issue 2 Winter 2001

In Pursuit of Flavor by Edna Lewis

The University Press of Virginia, 2000

reviewed by Sandy Bosworth

Edna Lewis learned about cooking and flavor as a child. She watched her mother cook in their kitchen in Freetown, Orange County, Virginia. She writes that fruits and vegetables from their gardens and fields were canned and preserved. Meat from their smokehouse was all good and pure (no chemicals added).

Edna Lewis knows how good food should taste. When she experiments with a new recipe, she tries to recapture the flavor of a simple old-fashioned dish. In recent years she has watched farmers markets grow and become popular all across our county. She likes the idea that farmers can sell fresh organically grown vegetables, fruit, meat, and poultry to everyone.

There are six chapters in this book and one begins with her special memories, and gives hints about many different foods. In "From the Gardens and Orchards" she writes about the different flavors of herbs, and in which dish to include each herb. For example, basil is very good on fresh vegetables and sauces. Tear the leaves, and remember that purple basil is just as good as green basil.

In "From the Farmyard" she writes that meats, just as vegetables, were eaten in their season, but chickens were eaten all year long.

In "From the Lakes, Streams and Oceans" she writes that she likes to buy a whole fish because bones have flavor, and it tastes better. When buying fresh fish, look for eyes that are bulging and gills that are deep red.


In "For the Cupboard" she writes that good cooks always put up their own food. She likes using jars with glass or zinc tops. She returns home every year in April or early May when the wild strawberries are ripe. They make the best preserves ever.

In "From the Bread Oven and Griddle" she writes that bread should be a part of every meal. It is good and satisfying.

In "The Good Taste of Old-fashioned Desserts" she writes that they're made with ingredients readily available in every farm kitchen - eggs, cream, butter, and sugar. These desserts smell and taste comfortable and warm. Just be sure to use the tastiest, freshest ingredients you can find Ð real butter, ripe fruit, good chocolate, and fresh cream. One recipe she especially enjoys is fresh peach cobbler with nutmeg sauce.

When reading this book one can enjoy her wonderful sense of enjoyment and excitement with cooking and baking all types of food. She suggests we never stop learning, and that her recipes are about "good food simply and lovingly preparedÓ.

This book is a great read. There are also articles about Edna Lewis in Bon Appetit, November, 2001 "People and Places" page 138 and in Gourmet November 2001 "The Quiet Cook" page 101.

previous issues
of the
Culinary Thymes

College of
Liberal Arts
and Human Sciences


Last modified on: 06.08.04 by Mark B. Gerus
Created 12.18.01 (CEG/GMc)
herb background from Old Thyme Inn