—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A heartfelt and forward-thinking book.”
“Conjure[s] writers as diverse and compelling as Alexis de Tocqueville, M.F.K. Fisher,
and Anthony Bourdain. . . . Powerful, poignant, and timely.”
“Raw, gritty. . . . Each chapter in Buttermilk Graffiti presents a new adventure.”
“Lee is consistently willing to dive into unfamiliar places and challenging conversations
to get stories that haven’t yet been told, and the reader emerges from Buttermilk Graffiti richer for his efforts. . . . Buttermilk Graffiti represents exactly the kind of inquiry
that helps create a vibrant national food scene.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Lee peels open the layers of what it means to be American today. . . . [Buttermilk Graffiti] contains a level of awareness that’s often missing from chef memoirs. . . . Lee is just as well-read and reflective as master of the genre Anthony Bourdain, but he brings a fresh take.”
“At a time when America’s melting-pot culture frightens so many citizens, Lee finds hope and joy in visiting ethnic communities all across the nation’s breadth.”
Named one of Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Food Books for Spring 2018
American food is the story of mash-ups. Immigrants arrive, cultures collide, and out of the push-pull come exciting new dishes and flavors. But for Edward Lee, who, like Anthony Bourdain or Gabrielle Hamilton, is as much a writer as he is a chef, that first surprising bite is just the beginning. What about the people behind the food? What about the traditions, the innovations, the memories?
A natural-born storyteller, Lee decided to hit the road and spent two years uncovering fascinating narratives from every corner of the country. There’s a Cambodian couple in Lowell, Massachusetts, and their efforts to re-create the flavors of their lost country. A Uyghur café in New York’s Brighton Beach serves a noodle soup that seems so very familiar and yet so very exotic—one unexpected ingredient opens a window onto an entirely unique culture. A beignet from Café du Monde in New Orleans, as potent as Proust’s madeleine, inspires a narrative that tunnels through time, back to the first Creole cooks, then forward to a Korean rice-flour hoedduck and a beignet dusted with matcha.
Sixteen adventures, 16 vibrant new chapters in the great evolving story of American cuisine. And 40 recipes, created by Lee, that bring these new dishes into our own kitchens.