First, a little disclaimer: Maya Angelou is quite possibly the person I admire most in the world (at least, that I don’t know in real life), and definitely first on my fantasy dinner party list. In other words, I’m just the tiniest bit biased in her favor. When she released a cookbook a few years back (Hallelujah! The Welcome Table), I ran to the bookstore, devoured every single page, and have since come to rely on Dr. Angelou’s biscuit recipe as an old standby in my kitchen. So when I heard she’d written a second cookbook, naturally, I high-tailed it to the store once again. To my surprise, Great Food, All Day Long is a huge departure from Hallelujah! in nearly every regard. It’s built around Dr. Angelou’s recent weight loss, using a method that’s virtually unheard of these days: smaller portions and reasonable meals. Groundbreaking, I know. You won’t find much in the way of old-school Southern cooking in this book – which, I confess, I miss a bit. But it’s packed with recipes that I imagine are the dishes Dr. Angelou actually cooks and eats every night. Classic recipes like Mixed-Up Tamale Pie, Cabbage Rolls and Braised Lamb with White Beans had me reminiscing about my grandmother’s kitchen, and her talent for making delicious, simple meals that were more about enjoying than impressing. There’s not a complicated recipe in the bunch – this is everyday home cooking. After years of devouring one high-maintenance/high-reward cookbook after another, there’s some comfort in being reminded of the foods people actually eat every night.
As always, I love Dr. Angelou’s tone and way of writing, and her recipes have me longing for a simple plate of simple food. If you’re in the mood for a little nostalgia, some inspiration to “eat smart,” as she says, or just (like me) are happy to hear anything Maya Angelou has to say, Great Food is sure to be a perfect addition to your cookbook arsenal. –Becki S.