Cookbook review: High times, fun food and country-store memories

"The Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin' in New Orleans" by Mason Hereford with JJ Goode (Ten Soeed, $30)

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"The Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin' in New Orleans" by Mason Hereford with JJ Goode (Ten Soeed, $30)

‘The Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans’ by Mason Hereford with JJ Goode (Ten Speed, $30)

Mason Hereford introduces himself in his first cookbook by sharing a memory of a food he hated during his upbringing in rural Virginia: the convenience-store bologna sandwiches his mom brought home for lunch.

He detested the texture of the “flabby off-brand cased meat” and the taste of the yellow mustard. He made the sandwich palatable by stuffing it with salt-and-vinegar potato chips.

“Never would’ve guessed some 20 years later, my version of that bologna sandwich would be featured in magazines, on TV shows, and, most important, in a mayonnaise commercial,” he writes.

Tubed pork from a local butcher shop, quick-pickled chips, and homemade sweet-hot mustard paired with Duke’s mayonnaise differentiate his now-famous sandwich from his earliest interpretation. He tells you how he makes it in “The Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans” (Ten Speed, $30), a vivid portrait of the people and recipes behind his restaurant of the same name.

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Despite his gripes about the lunch meat, Hereford credits the shabby mom-and-pop stores of his youth and their low-brow offerings with influencing the way he cooks today. He also gives props to his mom, his two grandmas, and his colorful colleagues for their roles in expanding his definition of delicious.

Hereford opened Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans’ Irish Channel neighborhood in 2016 with friends from the restaurants he worked at when he settled into the Big Easy after college. Food & Wine and GQ magazines both deemed the funky counter-service joint one of the most important restaurants of the decade. Food & Wine later listed Hereford’s newer breakfast spot, Molly’s Rise and Shine, a Best New Restaurant in America.

The fun-loving energy that fuels his restaurants reveals itself in recipes that blend nostalgia and humor with serious culinary chops: Gas Station Tostadas, Collard Green Sandwiches, and Slow-Cooked Lamb Necks with Fixings on Roti Paratha.

If you’re hankering for a quick dessert to challenge your palate, try his Cheese-Its and Peanuts on Ice Cream. The title says it all.

Weird? Delicious? Would I make it again? Yes, yes, and yes.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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