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Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks
Crystal Wilkinson
$30

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A lyrical culinary journey that explores the hidden legacy of Black Appalachians, through powerful storytelling alongside nearly forty comforting recipes, from the former poet laureate of Kentucky.

People are always surprised that Black people reside in the hills of Appalachia. Those not surprised that we were there, are surprised that we stayed.

Years ago, when O. Henry Prize-winning writer Crystal Wilkinson was baking a jam cake, she felt her late grandmother’s presence. She soon realized that she was not the only cook in her kitchen; there were her ancestors, too, stirring, measuring, and braising alongside her. These are her kitchen ghosts, five generations of Black women who settled in Appalachia and made a life, a legacy, and a cuisine.

An expert cook, Wilkinson shares nearly forty family recipes rooted deep in the past, full of flavor—delicious favorites including Corn Pudding, Chicken and Dumplings, Granny Christine’s Jam Cake, and Praisesong Biscuits, brought to vivid life through stunning photography. Together, Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts honors the mothers who came before, the land that provided for generations of her family, and the untold heritage of Black Appalachia.

As the keeper of her family’s stories and treasured dishes, Wilkinson shares her inheritance in Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts. She found their stories in her apron pockets, floating inside the steam of hot mustard greens and tucked into the sweet scent of clove and cinnamon in her kitchen. Part memoir, part cookbook, Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts weaves those stories together with recipes, family photos, and a lyrical imagination to present a culinary portrait of a family that has lived and worked the earth of the mountains for over a century.

BIO

Crystal Wilkinson, Kentucky’s Poet Laureate from 2021 to 2023, is the award-winning author of Perfect Black; The Birds of Opulence; Water Street; and Blackberries, Blackberries. She is the recipient of an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry, an O. Henry Prize, a USA Artists Fellowship, and an Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. She has received recognition from the Yaddo Foundation, Hedgebrook, The Hermitage Foundation, and others. Her short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky in the creative writing MFA program.

[H]  Clarkson Potter Publishers  /  January 23, 2024

0.81" H x 9.47" L x 6.53" W (1.7 lbs) 256 pages