The New York Times food section was full of interesting, fun and thought-provoking stuff this morning, but for me the most mouthwatering (and poignant) story was on page 3. There Kim Severson reported on the Edna Lewis memorial dinner, held this past Sunday in Atlanta. Edna Lewis was, as Kim described her, "an icon of Southern cooking."
Although she was born in Virginia and lived out her life in Atlanta, New Yorkers were graced by her presence and cooking skill for many years, first at Cafe Nicholson and then at Gage and Tollner. I recall eating her food many times, first at Gage and Tollner and later at the City Meals on Wheels benefits at the skating rink at Rockefeller Center.
I remember one hot June evening at one of those benefits biting into a piece of her fried chicken and thinking I had never tasted anything that good in my life, and then thinking the same thing after sampling one of her incomparable flaky, moist biscuits.
Her biscuits and the fried chicken were of course on the menu that Scott Peacock, a gifted Southern chef who had taken care of Lewis in the last years of her life, prepared. Although you could just read the menu in the paper this morning or get it on-line I thought it might make me feel better about missing the dinner (not that I was invited) if I at least typed it out here:
*Benne Seed Wafers with Shrimp Paste
*Pimento Cheese and Celery
*Buttermilk Biscuits Stuffed With Smithfield Ham, Sweet Butter
*Southern Pan-Fried Chicken
*Asparagus Dressed with Cucumber and Spring Herbs
*Heirloom Tomato and Field Pea Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise
*Sunday Night Cake
*Miss Lewis's Coconut Layer Cake
*Cat's Tongue Cookies
*Blackberry Cobbler With Fresh Churned Vanilla Ice Cream
*Old-Fashioned Tea Cakes
*Homemade Lemonade, Iced Tea
Is it just me, or does this sound like it was one of the greatest meals ever?