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Cookbook Review


The New Low-Country Cooking:
125 Recipes for Coastal Southern Cooking
with Innovative Style
by Marvin Woods
William Morrow, 2000
ISBN: 0-688-17205-9


“Southerners love to dress things up – their homes, themselves, and most decidedly their food.”  ~ Marvin Woods


Chef Marvin Woods is known for his “Low-Country Cuisine,” an elegant Continental version of Southern soul food.  The unique Low-Country flavor is a blend of African, French, Spanish and Caribbean culinary traditions that creates one of the most intriguing regional cuisines. 

The New Low-Country Cooking opens with a foreword by Culinary Historian Karen Hess giving historical references to show the slave influence in the region’s food traditions – “going back to earliest Colonial times, black hands did the cooking in the South.” 

Marvin Woods tells how his interest in cooking developed even to the point that he took home economics three times in high school just to be able to cook.  He goes into history of rice that plays such a strong role in Low-Country cooking.  Rice has been grown in Africa since around 1500 B.C., and slaves introduced the plants into the coastal south.  By the early 1700s the production of rice was bringing huge profits and became known as “Carolina Gold.”  Woods goes on to say that each generation and ethnic that enters the coastal south added their imprint of the culinary traditions.  His goal is “to bring a fresh approach to old favorites as well as creating new ones.” 

The recipe sections are introduced with a touch of southern humor and cultural attitudes about the culinary group.  The recipes are sophisticated, but not out of reach for the part-time cook.  Woods takes traditional southern foods and adds a touch to each dish to make it his own.   

Some recipes that will make your dinner a remembered feast:  Frogmore Stew, Fried Vidalia Onion Rings, Cucumber Shoestring Salad, Dirty Rice, Lemony Sweet Potato Puree, Carolina Crab Cakes with Dill Lemon Dressing, Creole Braised Chicken with Golden Rice, Sweet Potato Muffins, and Praline Bread Pudding. Yum!  Please remember my invitation. 

Marvin Woods polished his innovative approach to new Southern cuisine as executive chef at the Café Beulah in New York and Savannah.  His current venture is Diaspora Foods, an African-American culinary product line.  Woods is chef of Diaspora Grill in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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