April 28, 1986 12:00 PM

by Ernest Matthew Mickler

There’s a collage of food-package labels on the cover, and metal rings hold the book together instead of a more respectable binding. The author, a caterer in Key West, explains in his introduction, “If someone asked me what sets White Trash cooking aside from other kinds of cooking, I would have to name three of the ingredients: saltmeat, cornmeal and molasses.” Recipes include Pore Folk Soup: “Crumble soda crackers in warm milk. Salt, pepper, and eat with a spoon.” Does that tear at your heartstrings? There’s nothing trashier of course than recipes that start with cans of soup, and Freda’s Five-Can Casserole sets a new record in awfulness. There’s a Kiss Me Not Sandwich which is made with mustard and sliced onion. (“Ice tea helps wash it down.”) A lot of these recipes must be jokes, but one serious set of instructions is for Red Eye Gravy, which is considered a delicacy by many in the South. It’s worth noting: “After cooking the breakfast meat (bacon, ham, or sausage), remove it from the iron skillet and put it aside. To the drippins, pour 1/3 cup of strong coffee and stir while on the fire. Pour over hot grits or sop up with hot biscuits.” Now, that’s more like it. (The Jargon Society, $11.95)

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