Someone asked me the other day if there was a Southern cookbook that one’s grandmother would have used. I had to think. Although there are many nationally known and used cookbooks that come to mind. My grandmother would have not recognized the “fancy” recipes found in most. Then like manna from heaven, a cookbook reached my desk that may just fit the bill, Mary Mac’s Tea Room.

The author and owner John Ferrell brings together over 100 classic recipes from this venerable institution of Southern comfort food. Favorites such as Fried Okra, Country Ham with Redeye Gravy, Peach Buttermilk Pancakes, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Caramel Cream Cake. Among the delicious recipes you’ll find interesting photographs of famous diners and the marvelous staff, and my favorite, restaurant trivia.

When Mary Mac’s opened in 1945, it was one of a hundred or so “tea rooms” in the South. More than 60 years later, it stands alone in carrying on the tradition of bringing great Southern cooking to everyone from blue-collar workers to celebrities. The book’s richly illustrated photography, old menus, postcards and artwork dignifies Southern history.

“I’m sure my Grandmother has thousands of recipes, the only problem is…I can’t read her writing.” Good thing I found this cookbook. It may save her some time deciphering, and leave more time to cook?