Book Nook: Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey, by John Currence

As I have written about previously, we went to Oxford, MS, this summer for a wedding. As one must do while in Oxford, we ate at City Grocery and hit Square Books. They are staples that any first timer must do. Listen, I didn’t make the rules.

Well, on prominent display at Square Books, as it should be, was this book by John Currence, the owner of City Grocery and and a few other eateries around the SEC town. The full title is Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey: Recipes From My Three Favorite Food Groups. Same, John, Same. I’m always up for new recipes. This one was apparently written just for me.

Why do I say that. Well, the first thing I noticed flipping through in the book store is each recipe has a song recommendation. Music and food? Yes, please and thank you. He was even kind enough to make a Spotify list for us, which for some reason I cannot find right now. No problem, I can always make it later if needed. Spotify lists are sort of my thing. I currently have 225 playlists saved. That doesn’t even touch all the ones I have created and deleted.

Back to the cookbook. Pickles… features the customary acknowledgements and chef introduction that any standard book would have: The Word, According To Johnny Snack. I’ve been called Weezel Cakes before, but never Weezel Snack. I’m not sure I would prefer.

I especially liked Currence’s Manifesto: How I Cook section. Yes, that was largely due to his advice: have fun, make a drink and listen to some music when you cook. I’m still on board here people. I might be driving the train.

There is also the pretentiousness that one would expect from a pro, and one I aspire too. You know: only use fresh cracked pepper, clarify your own butter, make your own bread, dear god, is that table salt in your cabinet you degenerate heathen?

His equipment guide has me adding stuff to my Amazon wish list. I now feel like I need a spice grinder specifically for my pepper. I rarely blend things, but now I want a professional Vitamix, and not a “professional-grade” one. I am also currently listening to Kitchen Confidential, so I can see a couple new knives in my near future. Currence and Bourdain can’t both be wrong, right? Oh, by the way. Currence and Bourdain were friends. At least according to a couple of photos I saw online. There is a John Boos (Effingham) butcher block recommendation. Cool to see the home area mentions. Have I ever used a microplane? No. Do I want one? Yes. (Update: Turns out I already one one, after checking one of the utensil drawers).

The book is split into chapters based on cooking techniques. Chapter one is Stirring, Shaking and Muddling. Again, I can appreciate a cookbook that starts with the drinking. The first recipe in the book is for homemade bloody mary mix. The first picture has a bottle of Pappy in it. John, call me. We can be friends. I promise.

There is Boiling & Simmering, Picking & Cannings; Curing, Sauteing, etc.

My plan of attack here is to try to do a recipe a week or so. And yes, I’m planning on starting with that bloody mary mix. It was first, afterall.

There are quite a few recipes in here I know I can’t pull off due to equipment or food sourcing. I’m probably not doing Seared Benton’s American Prosciutto-Wrapped Gulf Yellowfin Tuna anytime soon. Any of my hunter friends want to hook me up for some Roasted Quail Stuffed With Truffle Bread Pudding?

And y’all thought I was pretentious before, right?


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