Edna Lewis

The grande dame of Southern cooking.

“To grapple with Lewis’s life and legacy is to grapple with the South itself.”

When Edna Lewis died in 2006, she was among the most beloved figures of American food. The author of four cookbooks—the best known being her 1976 memoir-infused The Taste of Country Cooking—she earned the praise of the food literati of her era, including Craig Claiborne, M.F.K. Fisher and James Beard. In 2014, Lewis was honored by the United States Postal Service—commemorated on a postage stamp as much for her advocacy of the farm-to-table methods of traditional Southern cooking as for her rejection of the knee-slapping stereotypes of the American South and its food.

Unlike many of her contemporaries, however, Edna Lewis never became a household name. Though she lived well into the dawn of food television and the celebrity chef era, she never had a television show, nor did she ped...

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