Are you ready for a taste of spring?
Open this scrumptious new picture book about award-winning chef, Edna Lewis, and you’ll be delighted and nourished by the bounty within.
Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie, the first children’s book by artist, food writer, and art director, Robbin Gourley, lovingly chronicles a year of Lewis’ childhood on a farm in Freetown, Virginia. Lewis (1916-2006), a proponent of regional, fresh-from-the-field, pure ingredients, was well ahead of her time as a pioneer in the natural foods movement, and one of the few female (let alone African American) chefs in the culinary industry. She was largely responsible for bringing southern cuisine to the attention of the culinary world.
As the story begins, Edna is awakened by the whippoorwill’s call, a sure sign that spring has finally arrived, and it’s time to pick wild strawberries with her sister. A few days later, there’s wild greens to gather with Auntie –mustard, purslane, dandelion, and peppery watercress. Each page turn offers something new to savor, as the seasons progress and the family cultivates everything from sweet, wild blackberries, to juicy, sun-ripened peaches, to garden-warmed tomatoes, to sugar baby watermelons and crisp, tart apples.
But it’s not just about growing and harvesting food. It’s about the great anticipation of eating it!
A fresh, crisp salad to nourish the heart and soul as well as the body.
Honey on hot biscuits sweetens the morning.
How about we make a summer pudding or a cobbler? Or just have a bowl of berries with sugar and cream?
But the best dessert on a hot summer day is peach ice cream.
A bowl of speckled butter beans for dinner tonight.
There’s nothing more comforting than a thick slice of bread piled high with Mama’s grape jam.
Of course, while they’re busy picking and gathering their largesse, they’re always tasting — berry juice staining mouths and hands, peach juice running down chins, nuts clattering on the rooftops and cracked open with glee. Whether it’s reverie over a tangy tomato sandwich, or a debate over the best way to enjoy fresh corn — on the cob, in pudding, or skillet cornbread — Edna and her family take great pride in what they have grown and know how to relish every single bite.
Gourley’s lyrical narrative, bursting with vivid detail and mouth-watering descriptions, is peppered with folk sayings, songs, and rhymes, that add a jubilant, regional, homespun flavor:
“Wake up, Jacon. Day’s a-breakin’.
Fryin’ pan’s on and cornbread’s bakin’.
Bacon in the pan. Coffee in the pot.
Git up now and get it while it’s hot.”
Her joyful, sunny watercolors are refreshing, engaging, and irresistibly delicious, perfectly capturing moments of communal labor, frolic and feasting. Gourley’s love for her subject shines through on every page, as the characters wade through blackberry brambles, climb cherry trees, wander through corn fields, and finally gather for a late autumn dinner.
Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie has received glowing reviews all around, including a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. The Author’s Note offers information about Edna’s accomplishments as a chef in New York City, and five updated, kid-friendly recipes (Strawberry Shortcake, Corn Pudding, Apple Crisp, Pecan Drops, and Nut-butter Squares), are also included, just waiting to be enjoyed by the whole family.
A culinary celebration that harkens back to a time when people were more connected to the land, this book will not only show children where some of the food they eat comes from, but how the values Edna acquired as part of her upbringing formed the basis for a professional career. A great choice for Black History Month and Women’s History Month, I give it a 5-spoon rating!!
photo by cbder
During the 50’s, Edna was the cook at Cafe Nicholson, on 58th Street, NYC, where she made roast chicken and cheese souffle for a decidedly artsy, bohemian crowd, including Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Marlene Dietrich.
~ Interior spreads posted by permission, copyright © 2009 Robbin Gourley, published by Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.