It's rare that I put a cookbook aside to seek other books the author wrote, but that is what happened with The Cracker Kitchen. I found My Brother Michael at the public library and had to finish it before I felt up to reading through Cracker Kitchen--that on top of having a 6 month old baby keeping me busy. Pat Conroy's introduction should have clued me into Owens's fabulous writing. But it didn't, although he described it so:
Janis Owens's cookbook is a love letter written to celebrate the poor white people of the American South who were my mother's people and my own.
We are the working-class back that colonial American was built upon, the children of its earliest pioneers, who have lately tired of hiding our light under a bushel, and have said to hell with subterfuge.
Owens limns her Cracker credentials by providing colorful family history within the context of all that Cracker symbolizes. The fabulous piece here, is that Crackers are inbred cousins to the Hillbilly, my people. And so, naturally, I am at once at ease with Owens's festive and engaging storytelling. Crackers are notorious for telling yarns; the men, especially.