The Grass Roots Cookbook, a collection of over 300 original recipes, is woven together by interviews with women-most of them old enough to recall kitchens that never stocked a box of instant mix or a can of soup- who faithfully hoard the old-fashioned recipes they learned from their mothers and that have been passed by word-of-mouth from generation to generation.
Mennonite Mary Rohrer of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, shares her knowledge of "schnitzing" apples, while Regina Correia-Branco, who lives in Massachusetts and has a Portuguese background, describes Portuguese Fish Stew and how to use coriander. Mrs. Serafin Gomez debunks the false conceptions of popular Tex-Mex cooking, and Mrs. Godfrey Kaupang's lefse and Scandinavian Sweet Soup and Beet Wine give evidence of Minnesota's Norwegian influence
Jean Anderson has culled such native exotica as Oxtail Soup and Fricasseed Muskrat from the South, and such interesting hybrids as Italian Spaghetti American Indian Style (from Mrs. Lorenzo Gonzales, whose background includes both New Mexican pueblos and urban Italian ghettos).
With "soups that begin with a soupbone and bubble lazily on the back of the stove"; breads that enable you to get your hands in the dough and feel the life of the yeast respond to your touch; old time cakes and cobblers filled with fresh fruits; robust stews plumped up with dumplings; vegetables scalloped the long-ago way in butter and cream; delicate shellfish soups and chowders," The Grass Roots Cookbook evokes a slower, mellower time when the kitchen truly was the heart of the house.
JEAN ANDERSON is a free-lance writer-photographer whose "pastimes have become consuming professional interests." Educated at Cornell and Columbia, she is contributing editor of Family Circle Magazine and the author of eight other books, including The Family Circle Cookbook, The Doubleday Cookbook, and Recipes from America's Restored Villages. She lives in New York City.