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Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Cookbook


Let me begin by admitting that Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Cookbook is my personal bible. I cannot complete a conversation about food without making reference to her magnificence. Miss Mary Bobo and her husband Jack took over the Salmon boarding house in 1908 from a retired physician in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Aside from her rather homely looks, Miss Mary demonstrated a fearless approach of farm to table food. Her recipes are as nourishing to the body as they are to the senses. A bowl of Miss Mary’s soup is as soothing as it is a gift from the culinary gods. A midday ‘supper’ is still served here daily, featuring the vegetables grown in the dual gardens on the premises. In a town famous for the Jack Daniel Distillery the county is actually dry, consequently Miss Mary’s only serves sweet iced tea and water. Regardless of this fact, many of her recipes famously include Jack Daniel’s whiskey.


The vibe at Miss Mary’s house is in perfect retrograde. Rocking chairs line the front porch inviting guests to relax until the dinner bell is rung. An actual dinner bell is rung, a charming touch.  A formal meal served family style, every table has a hostess who keeps the conversation going and the food flowing. It brings one back to the undeniable fact the art of supper is an event rather than a laborious chore.


The bread and rolls are a meal unto themselves. Stemming from a way of life when having good food meant keeping boarders versus no income, her recipes are a complete testament to bountiful and wholesomely pleasing meals. Miss Mary lived past 100 years of age, on butter and whole foods. Pass the potatoes, please.


Notable recipes (or chapters, this is way too hard):  ALL soups, Simple Supper Tomatoes, Most breads especially the Angel Biscuits, Macaroni and Cheese, and her Baked Chicken with Cream (includes minced celery, right?!)

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