While the role of author is a secondary one to this month’s featured Nashville author, her following as an author is overshadowed only by the food that is created from her cookbooks.
Daisy King, long considered Nashville’s grande dame of Southern cooking, is one of Nashville’s most well kept secrets.
Her 14 best-selling cookbooks, many of which have been staples in local homes’ kitchen for decades, run the gamut from local favorites to favorites from other quintessential Southern cities.
Her influence on Nashville’s food scene is undeniable. In fact, if we were to make a list of what would make a Nashville native a “true” native, having first-hand memories of dining at Miss Daisy’s Tearoom would have to be on that list.
We Southerners like to claim a close kinship with our English forefathers, and the Southern staple of a tearoom is one of those unique traits that we have kept alive through the generations. Miss Daisy’s Tearoom, which served such ladylike fare as finger sandwiches, also catered to comforting, hearty meals such as creamed chicken and cornbread. First opened in 1974, it was a staple of the Franklin and Nashville food scenes for decades.
Miss Daisy’s food is a finely balanced combination of sweet and savory, homestyle and refined, comforting and new. Her cookbook that has arguably received the most cooking stains in kitchens that have treasured the recipe and used it over and over again would have to be the yellow cover with green print – the iconic “Recipes from Miss Daisy’s.” I couldn’t tell you how many times her recipe for chicken divan has been made during my childhood, straight from my mother’s tattered pages of this cookbook.
Oh, and the frozen cherry salad. And the creamed chicken over cornbread. And the buttermilk pie. Lawsy, Miss Daisy can cook!
And her 14 cookbooks are indeed testament to that. You can now find Miss Daisy’s fabulous food inside the Grassland Foodland Market in Franklin, where she provides selections of her most beloved foods, prepared fresh daily. What’s even more wonderful is that Miss Daisy’s Kitchen will cater events and also provides home delivery of her food on select weekdays within a 15-mile radius.
Her most recent line of cookbooks honors other Southern destinations that have long histories of great local cuisine. Miss Daisy’ Historic Hospitality series of cookbooks highlights cuisines of multiple Southern locales – Nashville included! This series of cookbooks takes you to four of these Southern destinations chocked full with history and flavorful dishes. Whether it’s Shrimp-N-Grits, Corn Muffins, Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken or Caramel Pecan Pie, Miss Daisy lets you bring fabulous destination recipes right to your dinner table with these books: Meet Me on Jekyll Island, Meet Me at Belle Meade Plantation, Meet Me on St. Simons Island and Meet Me at The Hermitage Hotel.
These four selected places have long welcomed noted figures and celebrities of American history from presidents and business tycoons to Hollywood stars and famous athletes. With her recipes for delicious entrees, salads, appetizers, desserts and breads, Tennessee’s First Lady of Southern Cooking makes food and history entertaining and tasty. “These books are certainly cookbooks,” said King. “But they are more than that. They take readers inside the rich history of four popular Southern destinations. In the South, we cherish our food and our history. In many cases the two are inseparable.”
Along with its fine selection of southern recipes, Meet Me at Belle Meade Plantation tells “the intriguing story of ‘The Queen of Tennessee Plantations’ and its rise to world renowned fame… from the Civil War and presidential visits to becoming the thoroughbred breeding capital of the world, and progenitor of most of the Kentucky Derby winners of the twentieth century.” The plantation is one of Nashville’s most visited tourist sites. Meet Me at The Hermitage Hotel is “The captivating story of Nashville’s spectacular historic hotel, a hub of amazing political and social activity for over a century—from movie stars to presidents—and its inspiring rise from near extinction to present-day magnificence.”
Do yourself a favor, and read one of Miss Daisy’s cookbooks as if it were a novel. You will find yourself immersed in the recipes as if they were a finely-wrought character. Trust me. You’ll find yourself imagining the life of a poppyseed casserole as if it were a character that jumped from the pages of the most creative novel. Miss Daisy is a Nashville treasure. The one thing we treasure more than her recipes is Miss Daisy herself.