Louisville, Kentucky-based chef Edward Lee has published a book entitled Smoke & Pickles: Recipes & Stories from a New Southern Kitchen. As its name indicates it is not just a recipe book but a cooking memoir interweaving tales of identity and growing up in America with his creative takes on staples of Southern and Korean cuisines. Less obvious but pretty evident as well when you peruse the text, is the thread about manliness and masculine tastes for meat and harder liquor. This gives some interesting results: Tobacco Cookies, Steak Tartare with 6-minute Egg and Strawberry Ketchup (exit the tomatoes, enter the strawberries), Bourbon-and-Coke Meatloaf Sandwich with fried egg and black pepper gravy, Adobo Fried Chicken and Waffles (on the book cover), and more...
Lee told Women's Wear Daily that,
“The book has Southern influences and Asian influences — one world I grew up in, one I’m surrounded by now,” says Lee. “And if you put the two on top of each other, the place where they intersect is barbecue and pickles. There’s a strong influence of pickles in both Asian and Southern food, whether it’s kim chi or chow chow. The essence of barbecue is smoke flavor. So the two important things about Asian and Southern food is smoke and pickles. When I said that, my publisher stopped me and said, ‘Wait, that’s it. That’s the name of the book.’”
Pickled jasmine peach with star anise
The recipes also reveal an interest in spices and the fragrance of foods, so while the meat dishes are reportedly dominant with attention given to the sourcing of meat and humane killing of animals from a true butchery aficionado standpoint, and chapters divided after kinds of meat, there is room for inspiration taken from the vegetal world.
Edward Lee operates a restaurant in Louisville called 610 Magnolia where the agricultural references in the decor illustrate the importance of the farm-to-table movement for this cuisine.