The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon with Jan Brown (MacMillan: $19.95, 400 pp.).
I first seized upon this cookbook for selfish reasons. It was written by the owner of a Eureka Springs, Ark., bed-and-breakfast inn, the Dairy Hollow House, and a member of her staff. Having been reared in that part of the country and having fond memories of the wonderful country cooking that was prevalent there in my childhood, my appetite was whetted by nostalgia before I even opened the cover.
Alas, the first thing I read was that this was not a book of traditional Ozark recipes. Instead, the book features foods for which the authors have, not inaccurately, coined the phrase "nouveau'zarks." Explaining that little traditional Ozark food is available today in its original form, i.e. mashed potatoes from boiled potatoes rather than flakes and corn bread from scratch instead of a mix, the authors/cooks also point out that many Ozark dishes, in light of today's standards, do not always make the best use of their ingredients in terms of taste and nutrition. Their premises are valid. Heavy use of animal fats such as lard and fatty ham hocks and overcooked vegetables are definitely out of fashion everywhere. Thus, although I was expecting to leaf my way through a book that was a reminder of my past, it turned out to be a book that is more of a contemporary mid-South potluck than a regional showcase.