The Gift of Southern Cooking
Many years ago, I had the great honor of meeting legendary Southern chef EDNA LEWIS at a dinner for culinary students. Ms. Edna was one of ten chefs from around the country who cooked for the event, and a close friend, who had the honor of assisting in the kitchen, told me that all of the culinary giants migrated to Ms. Edna’s station and stood in awe as she carefully and deliberately stirred what would be the first course: She-Crab Soup.
For those of you who may not know, She-Crab soup is a southern, low country classic that majestically imparts the essence of lump crabmeat and orange roe from female blue crab into a delectable melange of richly satisfying goodness.
I was sitting at a table with my friend Terri and a bunch of corporate types — a real highbrow crowd — when Ms. Edna’s soup was served, and let me tell you, you could have heard a pin drop because the room fell completely silent. Silent.
In the South, we have a saying, “If no one at the table is talking, the food must be really good.”
It was so unbelievably good that when everyone’s bowl was empty and we had artfully sucked our soup spoons bone dry, all we could do was stare at the bowl in total amazement.
And then, a very prominent businessman said aloud, “Damn, I’m just dying to sop this soup up with a biscuit!”
And another said, “Hell, I was real close to licking the bowl!”
The crowd roared with laughter because we were all thinking the same thing. It was a truly once in a lifetime experience and I don’t think any us will ever forget it.
I dream about Ms. Edna’s She-Crab soup and was thankful she included a version in her cookbook with Scott Peacock, The Gift of Southern Cooking, but I will never cook that recipe because it would only pale in comparison to Ms. Edna’s.
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