Cook the Book: 'Endangered Recipes' by Lari Robling

20090525-ctb-endangered-recipes.jpgThere are some foods that I have only to think about and a myriad of childhood memories come flooding back to me. Snapper soup is one example; those words instantly take me back to a seafood restaurant in northeast Philadelphia. I couldn't be more than six or seven years old, and I'm sitting with my grandparents in a wood-paneled room; there are decorative oyster plates on the wall alongside Victorian valentines. My grandfather is drinking a Harvey Wallbanger and orders snapper soup to start. He offers me a taste, and it's delicious.

"What's in it?"

"Turtle, sherry, and cream."


I'm pretty sure that Lari Robling, a fellow native Philadelphian, has had a few similar experiences. Endangered Recipes is an incredible collection of vintage recipes from another era. These recipes come from the stained index cards and handwritten notebooks of grandmothers and aunts. They are the foods that you fondly remember from family gatherings, church basements, and potlucks. Robling has traveled all over the country seeking out people who she calls "Recipe Rescuers," who are adamantly recording and preserving the recipes that are such a integral part of their regional and family traditions.

There is a place in all of our hearts for the recipes that we grew up with, a time before we learned words like local, sustainable, and organic. The recipes in Endangered Recipes might not be the healthiest or the most cutting edge but they will satisfy a deep and very real need that we all have—tasting the foods of our childhood.

Every day this week we will share some oldies but goodies with you. Get ready for classic dishes like Smothered Pork Chops and Borscht, regional specialties, such as Pensacola Gaspachee Salad, and a few that are just plain great but have fallen out of fashion—remember Green Goddess Dressing? Caroline Russock

Win 'Endangered Recipes'

We are giving away five (5) copies of Endangered Recipes this week. All you have to do is tell us about your fondest childhood food memory in the comments section below.

Five (5) people will be chosen at random among the eligible comments below. We're sorry, but entry is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Comments will close Monday, June 1 at noon ET. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.