cover image The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table

The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table

Rick Bragg, read by the author. Random House Audio, unabridged, 16 CDs, 19.5 hrs., $50 ISBN 978-0-525-58864-1

Cookbooks don’t translate easily to the audiobook format, but Bragg, reading in a friendly Southern drawl, manages to effortlessly transform this collection of his mother’s Southern comfort food recipes into an utterly captivating listening experience. This is largely due to the narrative component of the book, which includes stories from Bragg’s mother’s life in the South and is intertwined with 75 recipes for dishes including “fried chicken, potato salad, and slab of pie,” which Bragg’s grandmother served his grandfather at a barn dance and which helped to seal her fate as his future wife. The recipes themselves are rooted in the oral tradition, and many of them include measurements such as “enough” and temperature guidelines such as “you’ll know.” Bragg clearly developed each recipe while observing his mother in the kitchen. He captures his mother’s razor-sharp judgment and confidence as well as her frequent disclaimer of “Some people may do it that way, but I don’t.” As with his previous audiobooks, Bragg renders the banter of his blue-collar Southern family with pride and heart. This is that rare food-centric audiobook to savor. A Knopf hardcover. (Apr.)