Now a sought-after chef and food consultant, Lewis grew up early in the century in Freetown, Virginia, a small farming community founded by former slaves; and she counts herself ""fortunate to have been raised at a time when the vegetables from the garden, the fruit from the orchard, and the meat from the smokehouse were all good and pure."" Though most of us can't get the fresh peaches, eggs, milk, and game of Lewis' childhood, her memories of ""how food should taste"" still inform her approach to traditional southern country cooking. As in her The Taste of Country Cooking (1976), here Lewis' exact but unpretentious recipes reflect her peerless taste. For her homemade ice cream, which calls for both vanilla and vanilla beans, she prefers beans from Madagascar to the Tahitian ones. Also, as in the earlier book, these recipes are enhanced by Lewis' loving childhood memories: of skinning eels by nailing the heads to the side of a barn; of the ""old gent"" who liked to fish and so kept the local women supplied with free catfish, eels, and trout; and of keeping perishables in a ""spring box,"" set in a running stream, in the days before electricity. So sensible and sure is Lewis' inner direction that she doesn't make a fetish of her own tradition (she even uses shiitake mushrooms), but she concentrates on the likes of country ham, rabbit, fish, fruit pie, and cornmeal. In her hands their preparation results in dishes of simple perfection.