Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields Summary

John Shields

Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields

CHESAPEAKE BAY COOKING WITH JOHN SHIELDS is a companion book for the television series of the same name that aired on public television in the spring of 1998. As such, it is more than a cookbook—it is a delightful social and culinary history of the mid-Atlantic Chesapeake Bay area by a native son, highlighting recipes of the coastline and farmlands of the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia), while celebrating the people and traditions of food and lifestyle of the region.

The introduction, which provides a brief historical overview of the area, is followed by a chapter describing ingredients distinctive to Chesapeake Bay cuisine. The next three chapters are dedicated to crabs, oysters, and seafood, respectively, followed by chapters on soups and stews, chicken and game birds, meat and game, salads, vegetables and side dishes, breakfast dishes, bread, desserts, and preserves and pickles. There is a Chesapeake Bay Resource Guide with tourism information, and a one-page bibliography.

The format is delightful. Each chapter includes anecdotal material and quotations extolling the virtues of the fare, photos and thumbnail sketches of local watermen and cooks, tales from locals, vignettes about the culture and geography of the Bay, instructions for food preparation (e.g., “grading and cleaning soft-shells”), and numerous simple recipes for the main courses, side dishes, and sauces.

A map of the region is included. Great photographs throughout the book capture pleasant sights and people enjoying themselves, and the center collection of color photographs of local dishes is truly mouth-watering. This is not a book for calorie-counters, but it is a joy for anyone who enjoys good food, especially seafood. A portion of the royalties from the book are donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an environmental/conservation organization.