Edward Lee decided to hit the road and spent two years uncovering food narratives from every corner of the country. What can food tell us about the people behind it? What about the traditions, the innovations, the memories?
The book's back cover touts its author's 'layered perspective'...and that's the key to the book's strength, too – it examines food not as static, finished recipes but as evolving conversations between cultures and generations ... Lee is consistently willing to dive into unfamiliar places and challenging conversations to get stories that haven't yet been told, and the reader emerges from Buttermilk Graffiti richer for his efforts ... In short: Lee talks a lot, but he listens more. More than anything, Buttermilk Graffiti represents exactly the kind of inquiry that helps create a vibrant national food scene.
What readers think they know about America is sure to be challenged in Buttermilk Graffiti, an altogether eye-popping collection of essays that crisscrosses the United States and pulls back the curtain on what’s really being cooked in America today—and who is doing the cooking ... In the end, Buttermilk Graffiti is as much about politics as it is about food ... Using food as the way in, Buttermilk Graffiti is a timely and important work that reminds readers that America’s melting pot is alive and well in the most unexpected places.
Lee finds hope and joy in visiting ethnic communities all across the nation’s breadth ... He gathers recipes and inventively adapts them to his own tastes ... Lee’s most touching prose comes with his recounting of his Korean War–veteran father’s favorite food, an outlandish concoction of soy sauce, Korean chili paste, kimchi, tofu, fried bologna, and ramen noodles, topped with poached eggs and American cheese.