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Around the Opry Table
A Feast of Recipes and Stories from the Grand Ole Opry

by Kay West

      What a treasure for anyone at all interested in the Grand Ole Opry, country music, or down home Southern cooking. The subtitle reads "A Feast of Recipes and Stories from the Grand Ole Opry" and it really is an absolute feast, equally divided between the people and the food.

Stories, pictures, and recipes range from the original performers like Uncle Dave Macon, whose participation even predated the name Grand Ole Opry, through second generation stars like Pam Tillis, daughter of Mel, to the menu from the October 2005 Opry induction party for Dierks Bentley.

The stories are great, all of them entertaining, some of them informative. Yankee that I am, I never knew that Minnie Pearl was such a tireless volunteer and spokeswoman for charities that the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center was named in her honor, using her real life name (even though everyone, even her own sisters, called her Minnie, she didn't want that character associated with cancer). I knew that Dolly Parton wrote the Whitney Houston hit, "I Will Always Love You." But I didn't know that it was acknowledged to be her personal yet public farewell to singing partner Porter Wagoner, "whose fame she was clearly eclipsing, a fact that was creating an uncomfortable work environment."

And then there are the recipes. For Dolly alone, they range from Wild Rose Jelly - part of her sister's attempt when they were younger to feed their large, poor family from what was available - to the fried potatoes and onions that, as fellow Opry member Jeanne Pruett puts it, "My friend Dolly Parton and I can eat our weight in these. After I fixed them for her the first time, she brought me the biggest iron skillet I've ever seen. The note she left with the skillet said, 'Anytime you can cook 'em, I can eat 'em.' So, since 1974 I've called them Goll-y, Dolly-s."

So grab your cookbook protector or some plastic wrap if that's all you have to keep those pictures clean and take this book into your kitchen and your heart. It will give you hours of pleasure-filled browsing and eating.

The Book

Center Street / A division of Hachette
October 15, 2007
Cookbook / Memoir
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2008
© 2008