Odds Are, Your Southern Mother Has Used This Famous Alabama Community Cookbook
In the South, cookbooks are like practical, instructive poetry, with ingredients reading out beautifully in tandem—buttermilk, bacon grease, green tomatoes, and so on. Despite many Southern home cooks simply knowing their family recipes by heart, there's also a deep affection for local community cookbooks. These tattered, passed-down volumes are basically overflowing recipe boxes containing all the secrets of Southern cooking, and the pages are often the place where grandmothers learned and tweaked their own creations, scribbling notes amongst saucy splatters. And one thing is certain: There is no community cookbook more iconic or beloved as Calling All Cooks.
First published in 1982 by AT&T TelecomPioneers of Alabama, a community service-driven group, this cookbook contains recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, and it remains one of the most popular community cookbooks of all time, with over 500,000 copies sold. What started as the first Calling All Cooks then became a series of four volumes boasting over 6,000 recipes. Finally, a vetting process of the mass amount of recipes resulted in the latest edition, which is a Best of the Best Calling All Cooks.
Now, we've done our fair share of research on the best community cookbooks out there (of which there are so many gems), but Calling All Cooks is really in a league of its own. It turned thousands of small-town Southern recipes into the ultimate handbook of tips, advice, and stories. And odds are, many of our mothers and grandmothers used one of the volumes to master classic dishes like sour cream biscuits, poppyseed chicken, tomato pie, and every sort of pound cake.
Currently, you can still find copies of all four volumes of Calling All Cooks, plus the Best of the Best edition, on Amazon, Ebay, and other resell sites. Check here, here, and here. Here's what shoppers have said online after finding a precious copy of the cookbook:
"I have had this book for over 25 years. Recently, one of my granddaughters asked if she could have it. I couldn't say no! This caused me to search for the replacement."
"This book looked awfully familiar when I first laid eyes on it, and lo and behold it is the repository of all my spouse's mother's best and very rarely shared recipes for dishes that were fan-favorites at the yearly family reunions. In one fell swoop, I have bested the stuff of family legend."
"No kitchen should be without Calling All Cooks!"
Community cookbooks have brought together family members, friends, and neighbors for generations, and it's one tradition worth keeping around for many more to come, even if it takes finding a tattered copy at the bottom of a flea market box. While you're at it, snag The Southern Living Community Cookbook for more crowd-pleasing recipes to try.