Oconee Regional Library

The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life

The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life

A review by Leard R. Daughety

September 10, 2005

When I saw that Pat Conroy had written a cookbook, my first thoughts were that he just wanted to publish something for the money or to remind his readers that he was still alive. Even after ordering it for the Library, it took a year for my curiosity to grow to the point that I finally picked it up. Surprisingly, I found that The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life contains recipes that could appeal to any palate. What surprised me most about Conroy's book are the twenty-three stories he includes to supplement his wide variety of culinary delights. If you're like me, most of my favorite foods have at least one story behind them. When I was in the Air Force for five years, I carried my grandfather's special cake recipe in my billfold for fear that I would lose it.

For this review, I thought I would very briefly summarize a few of these stories with the hope that maybe they will entice you to check the book out or purchase it for your personal collection.

"A Recipe is a Story" describes how the ending to The Great Santini came to be written. Conroy decides to "kill the SOB" but in order to make it ring with authenticity, he needs the knowledge of his father's flying experience. The reward that Conroy receives from his father only confirms his belief that "a recipe is just a story that ends with a good meal". "Bridesmaids Luncheon" describes the fatherly joy of cooking a luncheon as part of his daughter's full southern wedding. The menu included Cucumber Soup, Swordfish Salad, squash casserole, topped off with his mother-in-law's pound cake. He provides a Conroyesque twist in this tale by revealing the presence of his one-year-old granddaughter riding on her newly wed mother's hip in the wedding photograph.

Not possessing a sense of smell robs me of most of my sense of taste. Maybe that's why I thoroughly enjoy oysters, particularly roasted ones. By virtue of his adopted state Conroy has to include directions from the Low Country of South Carolina on a proper oyster roast. He receives a precise definition when he buys two bushels of oysters from St. Helena Island and asks the seller if they are "local oysters". "No sir, the man replies, I harvested these oysters over three miles from here."

One of the vegetables I look forward to coming in season the most is Vidalia Onions. Conroy uses four pages to expound on the qualities of this Georgia specialty as he combines it with his experience at a Georgia-Tennessee football game. The ingredients include two Tennessee fans, one elderly lady supplied with equal amounts of Wild Turkey and Georgia zeal, along with a young lady from Valdosta. When I was reading this particular story, Rotary Club luncheons in the fall sprang to my mind. The sergeant-at-arms or the football procrastinator usually comes through with some tidbit of humor. I thought this might be a candidate but I'm not sure if it would pass the four way test. Perhaps appropriately "Dying Down South Is More Fun" is followed by an adequate number of dishes that reflect the Southern tradition of eating as well after a funeral as some people do at Thanksgiving. Ranging from pickled shrimp, Dunbar macaroni, country ham with bourbon glaze to grits casserole, all of which can be washed down by George Washington's punch.

The 283 pages of Pat Conroy's Cookbook are obviously high on my recommended reading list. However I do not suggest you especially read or review this title when you are only having a salad for lunch.

A few side notes for our library patrons- to the patron who suggested we purchase more titles by Mr. Conroy- I plan to order The Great Santini, Lords of Discipline, Prince of Tides, and My Losing Season shortly. The Library does have his other remaining books.

During the next two months some sections in the Library are going to be moved. Georgia History, New Arrivals, Young Adults and Science Fiction will all have new locations that we hope will assist you. If you haven't visited the Susan Spencer Children's Center, you will be pleasantly surprised by the new paint scheme.

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