Culinary Wisdom from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Cross Creek Cookery by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Yearling and her memoir, Cross Creek, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was as comfortable in the kitchen as she was at the typewriter — maybe more so, as cooking was a joy to her, whereas she was in the “writing is agony” school of thought. Rawlings collected the recipes of her time and place in Cross Creek Cookery (1942).

For the most part, the recipes are simple and familiar, with a decidedly Southern accent. Still workable if not always healthful (lots of butter and sugar!),  some of the dishes would be considered a bit extreme for today’s tastes — Alligator-Tail Steak and Minorcan Gopher Stew among them.

Rawings enjoyed sharing her writing and publishing experiences, and seemed to completely relish holding forth with her kitchen and entertaining tips even more. Here are a few pieces of culinary wisdom and forthright Rawlings-style opinions from Cross Creek Cookery:

. . . . . . . . .

“Soup comes into its own, poor-man stye, as a main course. One small serving of a ravishing soup is infuriating. It is like seeing the Pearly Gates seeing shut in one’s face after one brief glimpse of Heaven.”

. . . . . . . . .

“The breaking together of bread, the sharing of salt, is too ancient a symbol of friendliness to be profaned. At the moment of dining, the assembled group stands for a little while as a safe unit, under a safe roof, agains the perils and enmities of the world.”

. . . . . . . . .

“Food imaginatively and lovingly prepared, and eaten in good company, warms the being with something more than the mere intake of calories. I cannot conceive of cooking for friends or family, under reasonable conditions, as being a chore.”

. . . . . . . . .

Cross Creek Cookery by Marjorie

Cross Creek Cookery on Amazon*
. . . . . . . . .

“A few vegetables survive time, tide and transportation. Most of them lose so much with every hour after their picking, that sometimes, as with broccoli, the store-bought variety bears no recognizable relation to the fresh garden variety. Corn and green peas also suffer, past belief, a loss of flavor … I should not dream of cutting my broccoli earlier than an hour before meal-time.”

. . . . . . . . .

“Collard greens and cornbread are a mark of the plain people, and Southern politicians make a point of their passion for them in their campaign speeches.”

. . . . . . . . .

“Folk who would rather starve than eat parsnips would make a sizable army. Charles Brown describes parsnips as tasting like gun-powder. There is little excuse for eating plain boiled parsnips, and fried parsnips are none too tempting, but parsnip croquettes are the ugly ducklings become a swan.”

. . . . . . . . .

“I have been known to invite ten for dinner just because I was in the notion to make a cake.”

. . . . . . . . .

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 1939

You might also like: A Talk  with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

. . . . . . . . .

“Two elements enter into successful and happy gatherings at table. The food, whether simple of elaborate, must be carefully prepared, willingly prepared, imaginatively prepared. And the guests — friends, family or strangers — must be conscious of their welcome.”

. . . . . . . . .

“We eat leisurely always, and sigh when we think it wise to eat no more, and know that the food will indeed be blessed to our bodies’ good.”

. . . . . . . . .

*This is an Amazon Affiliate link. If the product is purchased by linking through, Literary Ladies Guide receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *