The Big Jones Cookbook

A category like this has more candidates than you might expect, and it’s no slam on people from Mindy Segal to Anupy Singla to say that there’s one obvious winner here: Paul Fehribach’s The Big Jones Cookbook. Organized by regions of the south, it’s a cookbook built on cookbooks, as Fehribach is a devoted digger into long-forgotten volumes. And there are fascinating sidelights on everything from the Italian etymology of the low-country slave dish reezy-peezy to the old Virginia origins of chicken-fried steak. At the same time, it’s not a book that belabors its subject—a more scholarly tome is up next for Fehribach—and it’s a highly practical book, based on oft-requested recipes time-tested in Big Jones’s kitchen.