I love a good cookbook and especially love using them as a way to explore African American culture. With that in mind, I have curated Black Food Heritage Books to Add To Your Kitchen Library. Check out the list below and be sure to share images of your favorite food books using the hashtag #blacksouthernbelle
Black Food Heritage Books to Add To Your Kitchen Library
Throughout her career, Toni Tipton-Martin has shed new light on the history, breadth, and depth of African American cuisine. She’s introduced us to black cooks, some long forgotten, who established much of what’s considered to be our national cuisine. After all, if Thomas Jefferson introduced French haute cuisine to this country, who do you think actually cooked it?
In Jubilee, Tipton-Martin brings these masters into our kitchens. Through recipes and stories, we cook along with these pioneering figures, from enslaved chefs to middle- and upper-class writers and entrepreneurs. With more than 100 recipes, from classics such as Sweet Potato Biscuits, Seafood Gumbo, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Pecan Pie with Bourbon to lesser-known but even more decadent dishes like Bourbon & Apple Hot Toddies, Spoon Bread, and Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne, Jubilee presents techniques, ingredients, and dishes that show the roots of African American cooking—deeply beautiful, culturally diverse, fit for celebration.
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Since the 2016 opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, its Sweet Home Café has become a destination in its own right. Showcasing African American contributions to American cuisine, the café offers favorite dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, adding modern flavors and contemporary twists on classics. Now both readers and home cooks can partake of the café’s bounty: drawing upon traditions of family and fellowship strengthened by shared meals, Sweet Home Café Cookbook celebrates African American cooking through recipes served by the café itself and dishes inspired by foods from African American culture.
With 109 recipes, the sumptuous Sweet Home Café Cookbook takes readers on a deliciously unique journey. Presented here are the salads, sides, soups, snacks, sauces, main dishes, breads, and sweets that emerged in America as African, Caribbean, and European influences blended together. Featured recipes include Pea Tendril Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes, Hoppin’ John, Sénégalaise Peanut Soup, Maryland Crab Cakes, Jamaican Grilled Jerk Chicken, Shrimp & Grits, Fried Chicken and Waffles, Pan Roasted Rainbow Trout, Hickory Smoked Pork Shoulder, Chow Chow, Banana Pudding, Chocolate Chess Pie, and many others. More than a collection of inviting recipes, this book illustrates the pivotal–and often overlooked–role that African Americans have played in creating and re-creating American foodways. Offering a deliciously new perspective on African American food and culinary culture, Sweet Home Café Cookbook is an absolute must-have.
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Food studies, once trendy, has settled into the public arena. In the academy, scholarship on food and literary culture constitutes a growing river within literary and cultural studies, but writing on African American food and dining remains a tributary. Recipes for Respect bridges this gap, illuminating the role of foodways in African American culture as well as the contributions of Black cooks and chefs to what has been considered the mainstream.
Beginning in the early nineteenth century and continuing nearly to the present day, African Americans have often been stereotyped as illiterate kitchen geniuses. Rafia Zafar addresses this error, highlighting the long history of accomplished African Americans within our culinary traditions, as well as the literary and entrepreneurial strategies for civil rights and respectability woven into the written records of dining, cooking, and serving. Whether revealed in cookbooks or fiction, memoirs or hotel-keeping manuals, agricultural extension bulletins or library collections, foodways knowledge sustained Black strategies for self-reliance and dignity, the preservation of historical memory, and civil rights and social mobility. If, to follow Mary Douglas’s dictum, food is a field of action―that is, a venue for social intimacy, exchange, or aggression―African American writing about foodways constitutes an underappreciated critique of the racialized social and intellectual spaces of the United States.
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