Many gastronomes have a food “epiphany,” and I’m no exception. It was either 1985 or 1986, and my roommate and I went to Crook’s Corner for the first time. Crook’s was still run by Bill Neal, the “godfather” of Southern cooking, and I remember that meal like it was yesterday. She crab soup. Pimento cheese. Shrimp and grits. And a dessert that has become my primary summer staple — a four berry cobbler featuring sweet butter biscuits.
I talked to Bill Neal a fair amount back then, when I’d sit at the bar, being completely clueless about food and slowly soaking things in. I was a major science geek — working on my Ph.D. in molecular pathology of all things — but I had a love for history. And Bill Neal was certainly a food historian. Read the rest of this entry »