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The Taste of Country Cooking

Edna Lewis grew up in Freetown, Virginia, a tiny farming community established by freed slaves revolving around the ebbs and flows of the growing seasons. Accordingly, her classic book The Taste of Country Cooking is organized into menus by season, which was practically unheard of when it came out in 1976. For reference, Alice Water’s pioneering temple to seasonal cooking, Chez Panisse, had just opened a few years earlier, in 1971.

Lewis was also an excellent baker. As winning as her writing is—this is one of several volumes on this list that is just as good to read as it is to cook with—if you ask Lewis’ acolytes what they love about her, it will almost certainly be baked goods. Her biscuits are deservedly famous, and her pancakes are a common favorite.