Leafing through the pages of Heritage feels like eating your way through a buzzy restaurant’s tasting menu. There are the grabby nuggets that draw you in, the vivid colors of strewn sauces and tweezered garnishes, the bits of genius that let you know you’re in good hands. You get the sense that you’re moseying through someone’s creative vision.
Which is not only apt, but also quite a feat given the breadth of Sean Brock’s work. Born and raised in Appalachia with restaurants in Charleston and, most recently, Nashville, he’s made his name on Southern food. To say he’s done it as a chef would be an understatement; more accurate is as an advocate, preservationist, enthusiast, and chef. But even that doesn’t cover it.
Like most passions, Brock’s sense of the South is hard to satisfactorily put on paper, but Heritage captures it stunningly. You see it in the big, moody photos, the odes and interludes to everything from cornmeal grits to Ossabaw pigs, the profiles of the farmers and producers who typify the South and its foodways for Brock. Of course, you see it in the recipes, lyrical and so richly evocative of a particular time and place that they read in a drawl. It embodies, as Brock described to me, “this Southern way of looking at things and respecting things…that eventually ends up as the same emotion on your plate. That’s what Southern food does — it makes you feel a certain way.”
Read the rest on Food52.