Robinson grew up on Daufuskie Island, off the coast of South Carolina, which Pat Conroy wrote about in The Water Is Wide. In fact, she was one of his students in that two-room schoolhouse some 30 years ago. With Smith, Robinson recalls growing up on this isolated island, where her hardworking mother and father struggled to raise their 12 children. But her memories are of a happy childhood and a strong, supportive family, not of deprivation ("We didn't always have a lot, but we always had enough," she says). Meals depended on what there was in the garden, the ocean waters, and the farmyard, and they were simple but tasty: Hand-Picked Cucumber and Tomato Salad, Pop's Smuttered Mullet, Down-Home Chitlins. Robinson's stories come from another era (the map of Daufuskie today shows that much of the island has been taken over by gated communities for rich people from the mainland, and only a few natives still live there), and her memoir provides a warm, touching account of a time gone by. For area libraries and most collections on regional American fare. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The New York Times
Robinson knows what to do with classic soul food ingredients like pig's feet, ham hocks, chitterlings and even possum. But Southern food lovers will also find plenty of down-to-earth recipes for dishes like crab rice, fried shark, a variety of roasts and stews, ribs and oysters. — Dwight Garner
The Gullah people of the Sea Islands of South Carolina have preserved ways of life and speech from West African slave culture and plantation times. Robinson, a native of Daufuskie, one of the islands, writes that "most of our food came from the land-and water-around our tin-roofed home." This book honors a love of her childhood and her family, and that love is intertwined with food. Introducing most recipes are reminiscences of loading the wood stove, trips to the store, fishing for sheepshead, washing clothes on a washboard and cooking "long pots" (slow-cooked meals). Beautiful photos of island life and a relaxed attitude toward cooking ("these are recipes, not rules") make for accessible additions to anyone's Southern repertoire, with homespun dishes like Tada Salad, Sea Island Okra Gumbo and Fuskie Crab Patties. Sticky-Bush Blackberry Dumpling and Crackin' Conch and Rice are the kind of authentically regional recipes that are harder and harder to come by these days. Pot Full O' Coon and Fried Squirrel may not be the next trendy item on a Manhattan menu (Robinson admits she doesn't cook possum anymore), but these are the recipes that give the book its unique, almost anthropological intrigue. Given that many recipes begin with bacon or pork fat, this is not a cookbook meant for nouveau palates as much as it is for the preservation of a unique, fascinating culture. Wonderful to browse through and experiment with, this is an excellent volume for anyone interested in Southern and African-American culture and food. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.