John Currence is one of the most celebrated and well-loved chefs in the South. Among his string of highly successful restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi, Big Bad Breakfast holds a special place in diners' hearts: It is a gathering place where people from all walks come together to share the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Southerners know how to do breakfast right, and Currence has elevated it to an artform: dishes like Banana-Pecan Coffee Cake, Spicy Boudin and Poached Eggs, and Oyster Pot Pie are comforting, soulful, and packed with real Southern flavor. Big Bad Breakfast is full of delicious recipes that will make the day ahead that much better--not to mention stories of the wonderful characters who fill the restaurant every morning, and a meditation on why the Southern breakfast is one of America's most valuable culinary contributions. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com).
I was given a free copy of this book by bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review.
My Review: In case you haven’t noticed, I am a sucker for cookbooks. I really love them. They’re so fun—the delicious looking food, the food combinations I’ve never thought of and yet seem so obvious, the endless possibilities! I love reading cookbooks, too. I will often take a cookbook off my [rapidly growing] cookbook shelf and just look through it for something yummy that maybe I’ve missed or forgotten about.
I don’t often read cookbooks from cover to cover—you know, where you read everything the author says. A lot of my cookbooks don’t actually have much writing. I have an eclectic mix of cookbooks from professional authors and chefs and then I also have quite a few of those fun and sometimes weird neighborhood ones that include everything from a surprise new-favorite recipe of carnitas to a jello-salad that I will probably never make but hey, it’s fun to see what people eat, right?
This cookbook is certainly not your neighborhood “everybody put your favorite recipe in it!” fare. Oh no. this cookbook is serious. The chef himself is hilarious. I loved reading what he has to say. He speaks with an air of authority that only someone in his position can—he knows what he’s doing, other people know he knows what he’s doing, and his food is legit. With that comes a fun combination of seasoned knowledge and also unapologetic declarations for how good his food is. I liked this a lot, actually, because I believe him. People obviously respect this man and he’s totally someone that I can tell is as much a part of his restaurants as his food is. The book has a lot of personality, and that’s always fun and a departure from a lot of the cookbooks I’ve read. This is a well thought-out cookbook for sure.
Now for the food. I am no southern food connoisseur. I don’t eat weird things like strange parts of pigs or seafood that still looks like it’s alive. My husband doesn’t eat seafood at all, so go judge him and not me. Anyway, I did shy away from some of the recipes because of that. However, the recipes I did make were seriously delicious. I loved the shrimp and egg enchiladas, and my kids are still asking about the monkey bread that we made. Hint: It’s not your normal monkey bread recipe. Also—and maybe this is another judgy moment here—I learned how to cook eggs really well from this. I don’t consider myself to be a juvenile chef. I cook quite a bit and I can pull off some pretty impressive things. However, after reading this book I have been able to elevate my egg making to something pretty awesome, which is great because I eat an egg for breakfast every day (cue music from Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” here). Anyway, I think that’s a good measure of a cookbook—not only does it introduce you to fun new recipes, but it elevates the things that you already do. It seems fairly obvious that a professional breakfast chef should teach you how to make awesome eggs. He did.
If you’re into breakfast (who isn’t?!) or breakfast for dinner (me) this is totally your cookbook. I loved the variety of recipes available and I can’t wait to keep trying them.
My Rating: 4 Stars
For the sensitive reader: There is language in this book.