Keeper of Gullah Geechee Cuisine & Matriarch, Emily Meggett, Gets a Feature in the New York Times

Two weeks ago, Mrs. Meggett, who has never used a cookbook during her 78 years in the kitchen, published her own: “Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes From the Matriarch of Edisto Island.”

Her family and Abrams, the publisher, celebrated with a party on the island. About 500 people showed up, and she signed every book they bought. A church choir sang. Guests ate the 60 pounds of fresh shrimp she received in exchange for two signed cookbooks.

A Cook Who Never Used a Cookbook Now Has Her Own, Kim Severson, New York Times, 5.9.22

The article begins with a beautiful photo of a regal Ms. Meggett, resplendent in a fuchsia pink suit and matching “church lady hat” holding her new cookbook (which can be ordered at and other book purveyors): Gullah Geechee Home Cooking.

At 89, Mrs. Meggett is considered by many to be the most important Gullah Geechee cook alive.

Emily Meggett, the matriarch of Edisto Island. Photo credit: Clay Williams, New York Public Radio WNYC Studios

Turns out “Crisco and self-rising flour” are two of the biggest powerhouses in her recipes (the article calls these “workhorses”). And yes, I know that’s heresy to many chefs and home cooks. Then again, most of them have never had to worry about making a great meal out of “scant ingredients.”

If she has a message for home cooks, it’s to learn to be intuitive and pay attention to small but essential techniques, like not messing too much with your biscuit dough, or gauging the correct ratio of grain to liquid in a pot of red rice by the feel of the spoon when you stir.

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