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Hallelujah! The Welcome Table
By Maya Angelou

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Hallelujah! The Welcome Table
A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes
Large Print Edition
By Maya Angelou
Random House Large Print, 2004
ISBN: 0-375-43428-3
Genre: Memoir, Cooking

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - October 27, 2004

Dr. Maya Angelou is perhaps best known for her poetry, her novels, and her civil rights work. She is also the author of numerous best-selling books, such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and A Song Flung Up to Heaven. In her new book, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table - A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes, Angelou offers readers an intimate peak into her life. In this compelling volume, Angelou provides a brief overview of her life from her earliest days in Stamps, Arkansas and onward, as well as offering tidbits of information about her family and the friends she made throughout her career.

In writing this book, Angelou has taken a unique track in telling her history. Food was, and is an important aspect of her life, so she has chosen to tell her story through the foods that she associates with the major events in her life. This is not a detailed autobiography. Rather Angelou offers readers brief peeks at various aspects of her life. These synopses are accompanied with a more than 70 mouth watering recipes ranging from Lemon Meringue Pie and Collard Greens to Tamales de Maiz con Pollo and Smothered Chicken. Other recipes, such as those for Pickled Pig's Feet and Hog Head Cheese (which includes five pounds of pig's feet and one pound of pig's ears) may be less attractive to many readers. Even those recipes that may not suit your personal taste are fascinating to read, and they offer insight into the culinary culture of the American South that may be alien to some.

The recipes in this book are organized by Angelou's life events. If you are looking for a particular recipe, you'll need to skim through the index. Before doing so, however, I recommend that you read through this book. Not only does Angelou entertain with her witty narrative style, but within the pages of this book you'll find many old favorites and new dishes that will tempt your taste buds and your cooking repertoire.

Hallelujah! The Welcome Table is a cheerful reminder of the importance of sitting down at the table and eating meals as a family, the cultural significance of food, and the role that the sights, smells, and taste of various foods can play in storing and retrieving memories. The recipes in this collection are easy to follow, and, for the most part, the ingredients used should be easy to find in most supermarkets. These are good, old-fashioned home cooking, stick to your ribs recipes that are rich in taste and calories. Just reading this book may add a few pounds to your waistline, but they're worth it!


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