Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee
Reviewed by Chris, Librarian at Bridgewater Library
Edward Lee’s Buttermilk Graffiti is a brilliant meditation on “authenticity” and what it means in the melting pot cultures that make up the USA. Lee was born in Korea, raised in Brooklyn, and now lives in Kentucky, and for this book (and his own stomach) he travelled the States, meeting Cambodians in Lowell, MA; Lebanese in Clarksdale, MS; and Moroccans in Westport, CT. He talks about how they have kept the foodways of their homelands alive, and how they have changed in response to the outside influence. It’s really not surprising that Anthony Bourdain gave the front-cover blurb, since it’s very much in the late chef’s wheelhouse. It’s filed under “cookbooks” and has a few recipes, but it’s really more of a travelogue than that — the focus is on food, but more the why it’s cooked than the how. Don’t come into the book thinking you will learn the recipes and cook them by rote; instead, come into the book and perhaps have your viewpoints changed on what it means to be an American and what it means to cook the food you love.