Buttermilk Graffiti
There is a new American culinary landscape developing around us, and it’s one that chef Edward Lee is proud to represent. In a nation of immigrants who bring their own culinary backgrounds to this country, what happens one or even two generations later? What does their cuisine become? It turns into a cuisine uniquely its own and one that Lee argues makes America the most interesting place to eat on earth. Lee illustrates this through his own life story of being a Korean immigrant and a New Yorker and now a Southerner. In Off the Menu, he shows how we each have a unique food memoir that is worthy of exploration. To Lee, recipes are narratives and a conduit to learn about a person, a place, or a point in time. He says that the best way to get to know someone is to eat the food they eat. Each chapter shares a personal tale of growth and self-discovery through the foods Lee eats and the foods of the people he interacts with—whether it’s the Korean budae jjigae of his father or the mustard beer cheese he learns to make from his wife’s German-American family. Each chapter is written in narrative form and punctuated with two recipes to highlight the story, including Green Tea Beignets, Cornbread Pancakes with Rhubarb Jam, and Butternut Squash Schnitzel. Each recipe tells a story, but when taken together, they form the arc of the narrative and contribute to the story we call the new American food.

Buttermilk Graffiti Details

TitleButtermilk Graffiti
Author
ReleaseApr 17th, 2018
PublisherArtisan
ISBN-139781579657383
Rating
GenreFood and Drink, Food, Nonfiction, Cookbooks, Autobiography, Memoir, Travel

Buttermilk Graffiti Review

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    "Immigrants: we get the job done." (That's a Hamilton reference, y'all.)Edward Lee veers off in a slightly new direction in this travel memoir that also includes recipes (I really want people to stop calling this a cookbook, it isn't.) He visits places in America that have unique food cultures because of immigrants living there, from Moroccan (and smen, an intriguing fermented butter) in Hartford, Connecticut to a Lebanese community in Mississippi. He even travels through West Virginia with Ronn "Immigrants: we get the job done." (That's a Hamilton reference, y'all.)Edward Lee veers off in a slightly new direction in this travel memoir that also includes recipes (I really want people to stop calling this a cookbook, it isn't.) He visits places in America that have unique food cultures because of immigrants living there, from Moroccan (and smen, an intriguing fermented butter) in Hartford, Connecticut to a Lebanese community in Mississippi. He even travels through West Virginia with Ronni Lundy, a section I really enjoyed because I have and love her cookbook. He basically invites himself along!Edward Lee is curious and respectful, and sometimes people don't open up to him right away. His willingness to wait, to keep trying, and keep eating, yields interesting stories (but does not always yield the recipe secrets.) At the end of each section, he includes a few recipes. Sometimes they are pretty close to the food he consumed in the place, and other times it is his spin on it. All of the recipes are in the spirit of what he ate and how it got there, with a little extra bourbon from time to time (once a Kentucky boy....)I have to admit that I don't expect chefs to be the best writers, but the craft of writing in this book blew me away. "Paula sits with us for just a few minutes. Her parents still come in to make the kibbeh, she says. No one else can make it right. I can feel the restlessness in her bones that only another chef can truly understand."He moves between a narrative and reflective voice, and offers a focus and respect to food creators that has been long overdue.Thanks to the publisher for providing me early access through NetGalley. The book doesn't come out until April 17, but I couldn't wait to read it.
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  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    I liked the fact that this book evoked the emotional connection people have with food. It’s not about the taste of something always but who you share it with or memories from the past.I grew up going to visit relatives in West Virginia and eating those same pepperoni rolls. It’s not just the taste I remember but the trips in the car listening to my Dad singing country music on the way. This book is more than a cookbook, though there are great recipes, it’s about culture and memories.
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  • Cathie
    January 1, 1970
    quite an interesting gourmand travelogue!
  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher - 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 innovati I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher - 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, sixteen vibrant new chapters in the great evolving story of American cuisine. And forty recipes, created by Lee, that bring these new dishes into our own kitchens.I love Edward Lee from the Food Network and for his love of bourbon. He always does the most interesting fusion recipes and this book is chock full of them as he writes of his travels around the country and his discoveries on said trip. Will I attempt any of the recipes? Time will tell...but in the meantime, I recommend this book to any cook or person, like me, who consider cookbooks their porn. :-)
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  • Colleen
    January 1, 1970
    A fun read from an interesting perspective with recipes at the end of every chapter; my only complaint is that I read it too quickly and still want more.
  • Joe Jones
    January 1, 1970
    This is not your typical cookbook. Not even close. There are recipes at the end of each chapter but they are just a fraction of what I got out of this book. Instead Chef Edward Lee gave me a glimpse of different cultures that came to this country and the foods that define them and how they have adapted them. Wait, even that is only part of the story. I may never get to taste Chef Lee's food but I am thankful I am able to read his writing! He brings alive the idea of food being a central part of This is not your typical cookbook. Not even close. There are recipes at the end of each chapter but they are just a fraction of what I got out of this book. Instead Chef Edward Lee gave me a glimpse of different cultures that came to this country and the foods that define them and how they have adapted them. Wait, even that is only part of the story. I may never get to taste Chef Lee's food but I am thankful I am able to read his writing! He brings alive the idea of food being a central part of so many culture's lives in a way that makes you want to immediately start cooking his recipes for family and friends and discuss what you just read.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this one, maybe because Lee writes about places and foods familiar to me: Louisville, Houston & the Gulf, fufu, beignets. His adventure with a dead chicken in Paterson, NJ, was a delight. This made me want to be more adventurous with my eating, she said, then ate a plate of spaghetti.
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  • Charles Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliant. There's a sentence at the end of chapter 10 that gut punched me.
  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating look at various American communities and the food that has evolved from melding regions and international cuisine. Lots of recipes included but while they were fun to peruse, they didn't hold much interest since my digestive issues can't tolerate many of the ingredients. I do want to watch Lee's series Mind of a Chef and his documentary "Fermented." Thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy.
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  • Stesha Brandon
    January 1, 1970
    Lee raises interesting questions about authenticity, tradition, and appropriation as he explores how immigrant food cultures impact American cuisine.
  • Mahlon
    January 1, 1970
    I like Edward Lee a lot, he's good on TV and a good storyteller. The book itself is surprisingly well-written but when he got deep into the origins of the names of various things like benights I just lost interest.
  • Graham Oliver
    January 1, 1970
    The recipes and conceptualization of the food mechanics were fine (and I plan on trying to vegetarianize a few of the recipes), but the description/analysis/observations of the places/people/foodways were pretty simplistic/shallow/not interestingly written.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    It’s not a cookbook. It’s a memoir/travel memoir/ode to good food from all over. The food we eat and the places we enjoyed it stick with us in our memories where we can pull them back to offer comfort and good feelings. I enjoyed Lee’s description of all the places he visited, but, most of all, those from my hometown and my adopted hometown.
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  • Misha
    January 1, 1970
    It's up and down. Some chapters are great, others dull. I might read an article of eating here around DC now that Lee has estsblished himself here. Nothing close on his road trips.In fall I want to come back to it and try out the buttenut schnitzel.
  • Jen Wood
    January 1, 1970
    Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee. This was an unexpected journey through immigrant culture via food. The author explored restaurants large and small all over the country, meeting chefs, cooks, fishermen, distillers and consumers of food and drink. Some were friendly and open, some notsomuch. I admire his tenacity in every situation. He is curious and intrepid in the pursuit of the culture of food. He travels all over, making conversation, probing for recipes and insight, hoping to be invited in Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee. This was an unexpected journey through immigrant culture via food. The author explored restaurants large and small all over the country, meeting chefs, cooks, fishermen, distillers and consumers of food and drink. Some were friendly and open, some notsomuch. I admire his tenacity in every situation. He is curious and intrepid in the pursuit of the culture of food. He travels all over, making conversation, probing for recipes and insight, hoping to be invited into the circle of trust in many kitchens.I am not a foodie by any stretch, though I do like food. Also, I don’t enjoy cooking or experimenting in the kitchen, I can barely manage to feed my family the required number of times each week, and it’s essentially the same 6-7 things on repeat, so it’s unlikely I’d ever make any of the included recipes. Many of them sounded unique and delicious. This was an interesting read, I feel like I learned about immigrant culture in the US from an enthusiastic and unique point of view. I wasn’t familiar with Edward Lee’s previous book (or restaurant or TV notoriety) before this, but he seems like an interesting person with an insatiable appetite for food, both philosophically and literally. 4/5 stars ⭐️
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as a gift for making an ongoing donation to my public radio station. So I was a little skeptical it would be good (mainly because they were giving it away). But the premise sounded interesting and I often like a foodie memoir. Edward Lee is a chef here in Louisville, my city, and he has gained quite a bit of prominence nationally for being on Top Chef and winning some James Beard awards. He is Korean American but much of his food has a southern spark to it. So this book sort I received this book as a gift for making an ongoing donation to my public radio station. So I was a little skeptical it would be good (mainly because they were giving it away). But the premise sounded interesting and I often like a foodie memoir. Edward Lee is a chef here in Louisville, my city, and he has gained quite a bit of prominence nationally for being on Top Chef and winning some James Beard awards. He is Korean American but much of his food has a southern spark to it. So this book sort of expands on that theme; how immigrants to different parts of our country helped make a “melting pot” with their cuisine first. Each chapter he visits a different location in America that may be known for a unlikely or immigrant cuisine and interviews people and visits restaurants of that cuisine and how they have melded into the community. An example is Shapiro’s, A renowned Jewish deli in Indianapolis, or Middle Eastern food in Dearborn Michigan during Ramadan. Each chapter also ends with a recipe or two inspired by that cuisine that Lee then puts his own spin on. To me the recipes were kind of a throw away because the stories were the interesting part but maybe Lee feels he was expected to have them in there because he is a chef. Actually this book was less like a foodie memoir and more like a travelogue / sociological endeavor about how food helps immigrants hold on to a piece of their former country while also serving as a bridge to their new one. Fascinating premise. I felt the writing definately got better as the book progressed. At first it seemed a little stiff and awkward like he was trying too hard but the more he wrote the better he got. I was impressed by him and realized when I read his biography that he had gone to NYU and English had always been his strong suit. Keep writing Mr. Lee!
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  • Sandy
    January 1, 1970
    Although I found this book interesting in the beginning by the time I was halfway through it all started becoming repetitive
  • ThatPickledReader
    January 1, 1970
    Buttermilk Graffiti isn't really a cookbook--it's more of a collection of Edward Lee's thoughts and travels throughout America to trace the roots, people and history of various cuisines and food. It is thought-provoking, philosophical and a sentimental book written by someone very clearly passionate about food.
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  • Cat
    January 1, 1970
    Cool book! I'd love to just travel around exploring various things! I enjoyed Edward Lee's book and especially the recipes! The recipe for haesenpfeffer will be passed on to my daughter who makes a mean rabbit! Thank you to publisher for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.
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  • Sally McComas
    January 1, 1970
    Resounding VoiceA thoroughly enjoyable read that was honest, entertaining, and had great voice. I loved the exploration of the topic of immigrant food and how it evolves with each generation. One of the freshest food books I’ve read in a while.
  • Birdie
    January 1, 1970
    I love everything about this book! An unorthodox foodie travelogue! The author finds the soul of the people he meets and shows it to us. I can't wait to read more by him!
  • J.S.
    January 1, 1970
    Not a cookbook, and in the best way possible. A cookbook has never made me cry. This book had me alternately tearing up, laughing out loud, and flat out shaking my head at what I didn't know. The personal stories were moving and thought-provoking. Great job Chef Lee. I will read more of your books. I will look at my mom's old cookbooks in a new light, and try to remember the flavors and dishes that I grew up with and assumed would always be around.
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  • thebookiv
    January 1, 1970
    Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee was an awesome pleasure to read! I absolutely loved everything about this book! It was real. It was human. Culturally enriching. Diverse. Powerful. Expansive. Brilliantly well balanced. My mouth watered. Constantly. I honestly feel as though I've just gleaned some tightly held cooking secrets while having a pretty dope catch up conversation with my friend. Lee's anecdotal realness throughout his exploratory search across America for traditional cuisines, provide Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee was an awesome pleasure to read! I absolutely loved everything about this book! It was real. It was human. Culturally enriching. Diverse. Powerful. Expansive. Brilliantly well balanced. My mouth watered. Constantly. I honestly feel as though I've just gleaned some tightly held cooking secrets while having a pretty dope catch up conversation with my friend. Lee's anecdotal realness throughout his exploratory search across America for traditional cuisines, provided insight, emotions, a bit of nostalgia and a blasted hankering for every single thing this man had the notion to eat. Buttermilk Graffiti was a really really satisfying read...and I haven't even tried any recipes yet!This was read with a happy heart from cover to cover and I savored every single word!I think, too, once you try the recipes in this book, it will probably elevate you from an instablogging foodie to a cook with some mild culinary distinction. Once we embrace (try) the new flavor profiles and become creative with the new to us exotic ingredients list, tweaking each recipe to suit our own palates. It's cool to think of recipes originating from a kitchen half way across the globe, generations ago, but are available here and now to become part of my own kitchen culture. It's cool to think of the way traditions can begin...not just what it takes to continue, carry on or build on one.This book made me want to lay down some roots, boy. This was solid.Huge thank you to Artisan Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Audrey
    January 1, 1970
    Don’t dive into Buttermilk Graffiti thinking it’s just a cookbook because it’s so much more. I think the little blurb on the front is a perfect representation of what’s inside. In each section, Edward Lee travels to a different location learning the history of the local food and the culture from which it comes. The connections he made between food and its cultural heritage and how foods change over time here in America was so interesting. I couldn’t put this book down. The recipes seem accessibl Don’t dive into Buttermilk Graffiti thinking it’s just a cookbook because it’s so much more. I think the little blurb on the front is a perfect representation of what’s inside. In each section, Edward Lee travels to a different location learning the history of the local food and the culture from which it comes. The connections he made between food and its cultural heritage and how foods change over time here in America was so interesting. I couldn’t put this book down. The recipes seem accessible for a person that knows there way around the kitchen pretty well. I’m excited to add a few of these to my arsenal. However, some of the ingredients would be difficult to obtain if you don’t live near a major city or a fantastic Asian market. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves diversity in food.Thanks to the publisher for the eARC through NetGalley.
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  • Michele
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to love this book, but was mostly disappointed. His writing is too precious, for example, describing kneading butter: “Her hands clench and relax in a motion that seems as rehearsed as an ancient dance.” He talks about how his nervous system doesn't like MSG. However, he doesn't mention that the ingredient that many Peruvian home cooks use to make their ceviche so delicious is ajinomoto - or MSG...Interesting that talking about Salumi in the Seattle section Lee goes out of his wa I really wanted to love this book, but was mostly disappointed. His writing is too precious, for example, describing kneading butter: “Her hands clench and relax in a motion that seems as rehearsed as an ancient dance.” He talks about how his nervous system doesn't like MSG. However, he doesn't mention that the ingredient that many Peruvian home cooks use to make their ceviche so delicious is ajinomoto - or MSG...Interesting that talking about Salumi in the Seattle section Lee goes out of his way not to identify Armandino as Mario Batali’s father. He while he has done research about the food, he reflects on some things that he realizes as though they are revelations although they have been well documented, like that food is the last aspect that a culture loses when it assimilates into another culture.Then there are the inaccuracies, some of the Amish are part of the Pennsylvania Dutch, people who spoke German, but they came from Switzerland and Alsace, not Germany.
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  • Adam Stanley
    January 1, 1970
    Chef Ed Lee admits in his writing that he is not actually a writer, but you could have fooled me. His quick pace and poetic styling makes this a breezy read chalk-full of narratives around American cuisine — the who, what, why, and how.
  • lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Edward Lee travels America, eating the local cuisines and talking to the local cuisine makers. Fifteen years ago, during the Bush/Kerry campaign, I did something similar. I enjoyed this book that triggered some long-forgotten memories of my trip around my country, and everything I learned about it on the way. Although Lee explains at the beginning of the book that he didn't include pictures of the food so that people wouldn't be discouraged that their attempts didn't look like the pictures of th Edward Lee travels America, eating the local cuisines and talking to the local cuisine makers. Fifteen years ago, during the Bush/Kerry campaign, I did something similar. I enjoyed this book that triggered some long-forgotten memories of my trip around my country, and everything I learned about it on the way. Although Lee explains at the beginning of the book that he didn't include pictures of the food so that people wouldn't be discouraged that their attempts didn't look like the pictures of the recipes, I would have loved to see pictures of the restaurants he discovered, and the people he talked to along the way. I understand why he was more interested in sampling the food, and the discussions it provoked, and I'm not a picture person either, but it would have given me a little more connection to the people and places he visited.This is minor gripe though. In this day and age, it is important to remember our huge, massively diverse country and all the people it encompasses. Buttermilk Graffiti reminds me of that.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    I thoroughly enjoyed this food history journey with Chef Lee. Mr. Lee really took me on a grand experience. I not only got to use my sense of imagination but creative as well. This is due to the fact that there was only descriptions of the food as told by Mr. Lee and the contributors. There were plenty of recipes for featured dishes but no pictures. This is as Mr. Lee explains is to open the senses. Without any images, there is nothing to compare the finished product with. Before there was Insta I thoroughly enjoyed this food history journey with Chef Lee. Mr. Lee really took me on a grand experience. I not only got to use my sense of imagination but creative as well. This is due to the fact that there was only descriptions of the food as told by Mr. Lee and the contributors. There were plenty of recipes for featured dishes but no pictures. This is as Mr. Lee explains is to open the senses. Without any images, there is nothing to compare the finished product with. Before there was Instagram, people had to relay on their instincts to make a dish and share it with family and friends once the food was done. No pictures.I like cooking. Although, I am not a professional like my sister. What I do like about cooking is that I can play around with measurements, spices, and foods. Learning about the different cultures and dishes that were featured in this book were great. It made me appreciate the history behind what I am eating more. Foodie fans from beginners to experts will love this book. A real food experience for the senses!
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  • Virginia
    January 1, 1970
    I couldn’t really get into the authors writing style. One moment he was telling a wonderful story and the next he was preaching. Also I like pictures with my recipes, just as I like picture with my travel bits. Pictures are a modern invention and I feel one of the best.
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  • pianogal
    January 1, 1970
    Good read. I've seen Edward on The Mind of Chef and I liked his stories here. He really did a good job finding stories that go beyond just the food. Also, I'd say that he has a very understanding wife for his to travel so much.
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