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The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

(article, Christina Eng)

In the beginning, they worked for peanuts. Or, more precisely, boiled peanuts. In the early 1990s, New York City residents Matt and Ted Lee began to get nostalgic for the foods they ate growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. They started to crave things like boiled peanuts, “purchased by the side of the road, in soggy brown kraft paper bags.” 

So one afternoon, they decided to boil pounds of peanuts themselves in the small apartment they shared on the Lower East Side. Before long, they peddled them as well – to bars and restaurants around town and to other Southern expats. Their endeavors led eventually to a thriving mail-order business, offering fig preserves and watermelon-rind pickles as well as the fabled peanuts, and a parallel career as food and travel writers.

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The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, the siblings’ first foray into book publishing, reflects their early efforts to track down their favorite Southern foodstuffs. Comprehensive and compelling, the thick volume also provides in-depth looks at such regional specialties as she-crab soup, jambalaya, gumbo, and skillet cornbread.

Alongside the traditional recipes are unconventional ones; a Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Grits Soufflé, for example, is both impressive and comforting. The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook is a successful blend of the brothers’ present with their past.

p(bio). [christina_eng@hotmail.com "Christina Eng"] is a writer in Oakland, California.

*Also on Culinate: More on southern cooking.


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