If umami is the fifth flavor, smoke is the sixth. So says Edward Lee, owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky, and author of Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a new Southern Kitchen. Linking his Korean-American roots in Brooklyn to a sorghum and bourbon-fueled reinvention in the deep South, Lee's made "connections where others see contradictions" in food, cooking, and culture.
With a title like Smoke & Pickles, it's fair not to expect dessert; but you'd be wrong to assume it's been overlooked. The last chapter, "Buttermilk and Karaoke", waxes rhapsodic on the acquired taste of cultured milk and its ubiquitous presence in Southern cooking. The first time chef Lee tried buttermilk, he threw it out. Now, it forms the basis for recipes like Cornbread Sorghum Milkshake and Sweet Spoonbread Souffle, both of which we're featuring this week.
It seems the further Lee has traveled from home, the closer he's gotten to the flavors of his upbringing. Some dishes have an even balance of Korean and Southern, like kimchi poutine, and others are all Kentucky, as in Tobacco Cookies, a recipe that calls for "a good cigar" alongside butter and sugar. Rather than trying to meld two cuisines into one whole, he gives both ample space to play, apart and together. It's a very American way to re-make Southern food.
Win A Copy!
Thanks to the generous folks over at Artisan, we are giving away five (5) copies of Smoke & Pickles this week. All you have to do is tell us about your favorite Southern sweet in the comments section below!