Six Cases of Cookbooks: Julia Child and Caroline Williams
This is a larger shot of Caroline’s cook book collection. This collection began as a silent witness to segregation. My daughter’s grandmother started collecting the cookbooks at a time when blacks in Nashville were not welcome in many restaurants. Families associated with Fisk, Tennessee State University and Meharry as well as others formed dining clubs held in each others homes to fill the void.
Today the collection stands as witness to the smallness of the world and the progress of the South.
Kate Ezell, the general of my cyberbook tour, has much to do with Caroline’s book collection. She’s added the The Tabasco Cookbook and the The Galatoire’s Cookbook, and The Barefoot in Paris Cookbook and something that is called Great Food Fast.
Kate gave most of these cookbooks directly to Caroline. Kate is a very direct woman. Skinny with close cropped gorgeous hair, limmoge blue eyes, and for a long time signature red lipstick, she is at once glamorous and no nonsense. A lot like the Prada clothes she wears.
Recently Kate’s daughter, a recent Yale grad and banking analyst, moved into a new and very nice apartment in New York. The rent left little for the extras. Mrs. Read, Kate’s New Orleans mother, suggested sweet potatoes.
You put them in water, using toothpicks to keep them only half submerged and they grow into gorgeous green plants. A southern lady will go without much, but not without beauty. Mama Read told Lauren, Lauren told me, I will tell Caroline, and soon Caroline will be telling someone in Tokyo or Rome.
This year, at Vanderbilt, I will be teaching a course called Soul Food as text, in text. I found a lot of the books (Date with a Dish; Vibration Cooking of a Geechee Girl) on this bookshelf.
One of the odd events of my life of which I am most proud is that back in 1979 I studied with Julia Child, for credit, at Harvard. I called Ms. Child up on the phone and asked her and she said yes. I wish she had lived long enough for Caroline to show her these shelves. I’m glad I lived long enough to see such a wide and wondrous groups of southern women add to them.