Book Review: Sweet and Tart: <i>A Southerly Course</i> and <i>A New Turn in the South</i>

Approaching Southern cooking from opposite directions

Todd Coleman

I have never known a cook this crazy for vinegar.

Brunswick Stew to its gamey origins by throwing rabbit into the pot, and has a passion for pickling—relishes, chow-chows, shrimp (see a recipe, right). I have never known a cook this crazy for vinegar: Roasted chicken thighs and pearl onions get a reduction of cane vinegar; sorghum vinaigrette gives a sweet-mustardy edge to sliced duck. Tartness may be in Acheson's bones. But there is evidence of surrender. Though his instructions are mostly as straightforward as his flavors, he sometimes lapses into fairy-tale speak. When peeling tiny Brussels sprouts, he says, "Pretend you are a giant working on cabbages." By dessert, he almost sounds like a Southerner: "Molten chocolate cake," he says, "has nothing on a peach pie."