Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts
By Crystal Wilkinson
2024 • Clarkson Potter
People are always surprised that Black people reside in the hills of Appalachia. Those not surprised that we were there, are surprised that we stayed.
Years ago, when O. Henry Prize-winning writer Crystal Wilkinson was baking a jam cake, she felt her late grandmother’s presence. She soon realized that she was not the only cook in her kitchen; there were her ancestors, too, stirring, measuring, and braising alongside her. These are her kitchen ghosts, five generations of Black women who settled in Appalachia and made a life, a legacy, and a cuisine.
As the keeper of her family’s stories and treasured dishes, Wilkinson shares her inheritance in Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts. She found their stories in her apron pockets, floating inside the steam of hot mustard greens, and tucked into the sweet scent of clove and cinnamon in her kitchen. Part memoir, part cookbook, Wilkinson weaves those stories together with recipes, family photos, and a lyrical imagination to present a culinary portrait of a family that has lived and worked the earth of the mountains for over a century. An expert cook, Wilkinson shares forty family recipes rooted deep in the past, full of flavor—delicious favorites including Corn Pudding, Chicken and Dumplings, Jam Cake, and Praisesong Biscuits, brought to vivid life through stunning photography. Together, Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts honors the mothers who came before, the land that provided for generations of her family, and the untold heritage of Black Appalachia.
Tags: #amplifymelanatedvoices, african american, american regional, american south, Appalachia, Appalachian, Books, comfort food, food history, food writing, multigenerational, North American, Pre-Order