The first issue of For the Culture is out! For the Culture is a new food magazine dedicated to African, African American, and African Diaspora women and femmes in the food and wine industry. The first cover features historian and author, Dr. Jessica B. Harris, and the overall theme of “It’s Personal + The Pandemic.” The magazine is edited by chef and cookbook author Klancy Miller, and features work by all Black women writers and photographers. Miller describes the magazine as filling a void in the food media world, and serving as a place to celebrate and amplify Black voices. The magazine was first funded through a crowdsourcing campaign and a bake sale in 2020, and the first official issue just came out in January 2021. The first issue is centered on personal stories of the pandemic, and contributors from around the world weighed in with their experiences. The original theme was only “It’s Personal,” but Miller later modified it to include the pandemic as 2020 went on, which has obviously affected the food and wine industry and communities of color (and their intersections) particularly severely. I treated myself to a copy of For the Culture for my birthday, and I highly recommend this beautifully photographed, written and researched magazine. Get your copy on the For the Culture website here for $25.
Category Archives: Books
In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan takes readers on a trip of East Africa
We wrote previously about highly enjoying Hawa Hassan’s Somali recipes on Bon Appetit, so we were delighted when we learned that Hassan was releasing her first cookbook, with Julia Turshen, in late 2020, In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean. We bought In Bibi’s Kitchen for ourselves for Christmas, and are happy to report that it is delightful, both as a cookbook, and as an intimate insight into the lives of the featured cooks. The recipes in the book cover the eight African nations that border the Indian ocean: South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea. Hassan is a Somali-American chef and entrepreneur, and wanted to shed some light on the culinary traditions of East Africa, and we are so happy that this under-explored culinary region is so nicely featured in her new cookbook.
The rich trans-Indian Ocean culinary and cultural exchange is apparent in these recipes, which mix Indian, Middle-Eastern and Sub-Saharan African flavors (and tons of warm spices). We especially loved that Hassan included recipes for the spice blends in the book including the cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom redolent Xawaash (similar to Yemeni Hawaij spice blend). Another aspect of the book we particularly enjoyed was that each chapter starts with an interview with a grandma – or “Bibi” (living in Africa, or abroad) – about her life, cooking, and recipes. As an additional bonus, the on-site photographs by Khadija Farah, and food photography by Jennifer May are simply gorgeous. We have only tried a few recipes from In Bibi’s Kitchen, so far, but they have all been excellent and utilize mainly ingredients which can be obtained in a well-stocked grocery store. Vogue UK has a sampling of 3 recipes: Ma Gehennet’s Shiro (chickpea stew) from Eritrea, Zanzibar Pilau (rice) from Tanzania, and Ma Kauthar’s Mango Chile Sauce from Kenya. This weekend we aim to try a new recipe from the book: a Somali-inflected pasta dish called Suugo Suqaar (recipe here), which she previously demo-ed on Bon Appetit. Don’t delay, you can buy In Bibi’s Kitchen, from Bookshop.org here.
Bellies En-Route’s Egyptian Cookbook
When we were in Egypt in October 2018 (has it really been that long)? We took a food tour in Cairo with Bellies En-Route, led by Mia. Eating our way through Cairo with experts was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, and you can read the summary of our tour here. When we learned that the Bellies team had released their first cookbook, Table to Table, this year, we knew we had to get a (virtual) copy. We love making cuisine from all of our travels, so we were delighted to see that the Bellies had highlighted some of the dishes that we had sampled on the Cairo food tour, particularly the Macarona Béchamel, which is an Egyptian cousin to macaroni and cheese. Along with recipes, the book is really well-designed, and contains a heaping helping of cultural insights that you would not normally see in a cookbook.
All in all, you receive 16 recipes including including 2 soups, 3 appetizers, 8 mains, and 3 desserts. We are particularly looking forward to making the lentil soup (shorbet ads), the potato & chicken casserole (seneyet batates bel ferakh), moussaka, and the basbousa, a classic semolina-based dessert that we tried for the first time on our tour (pictured among other desserts on our tour below). All of the recipes are handed down from family members, which makes them extra special. With the uncertain Covid-19 situation, runnign a food tour business is precarious, so go and help out these amazing entrepreneurs. You can buy the Table to Table eCookbook, which comes as a handy PDF download (or a file to send to a Kindle). from Gumroad here for $16.99. Follow Bellies En-Route on Instagram to learn about their latest adventures.
Filed under Books, World Eats
Ghanaian cuisine gets its due with “The Ghana Cookbook”
We are always excited when a cookbook comes out that features an under-represented cuisine. In this case, Ghana gets the star treatment in Barbara Baëta and Fran Osseo-Asare’s “Ghana Cookbook.” Disappointed with the lack of African cookbooks available in the US, Osseo-Asare had previously created a Ghanaian cookbook for kids, “Good Soup Attracts Chairs.” The latest cookbook was co-written with Ghanian culinary expert Baëta, and contains the iconic foods of Ghanaian cuisine,as well as anecdotes and stories about Ghanaian culture. This Medium article by Osseo-Asare talks about how the cookbook came to be, and contains a few recipes: plantain pancakes and a hibiscus drink.
How to Cook Like Toulouse-Lautrec
In honor of Bastille Day, here is a fascinating French cookbook to explore, “The Art of Cuisine” by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (yes, the artist)! This is in fact a compendium of his recipes, published after his death, along with sketches and other notes. An avowed denizen of Parisian nightlife, Toulouse-Lautrec was also something of a gourmand. In his cookbook you will find recipes for such exotic fare as “baked kangaroo” (containing no kangaroo) and more simple recipes typical of his native Southern France.
Fabrico Próprio, a field guide to the world of Portuguese pastries
We are back in Portugal for the third time and there are still so many pastries to try! An invaluable resource for my pastry post doc has been the book Fabrico Próprio (which means “made in house,” a label you will see on many bakeries), which I purchased in Lisbon in 2012. The book, by Rita João, Pedro Ferreira and Frederico Duarte presents a social history of semi-industrial baking in Portugal, and also serves as a field guide, identifying 92 emblematic pastries and many iconic cafes through lovely pictures and Portuguese/English bilingual text. The book was clearly a labor of love, and the authors were quite thorough in their documentation of pastelarias throughout Portugal (but especially in Lisbon). We love using this book’s detailed photos and drawings as a guide to the sweet offerings in Lisbon, since the Portuguese pastry experience can sometimes be overwhelming. You can learn more on the book’s comprehensive website. We highly recommend this book! Fabrico Próprio is available on the book’s site for 35 euros – and with free international shipping!
Filed under Books, Pastry Post-Poc
Von y Carmen: Cooking her way through Puerto Rican Classics
We love our mofongo, and we are grateful that Chicago has a bunch of great Puerto Rican restaurants. Despite its deliciousness, Puerto Rican cooking flies a bit under the radar in the US. However, we have grown to love it and are looking for a good basic cookbook. Apparently much like Joy of Cooking for the US, Puerto Rico has an iconic tome, Cocina Criolla, by Carmen Valldejuli that has pretty much every recipe you need to know. This Puerto Rican classic has inspired journalist Von Diaz to get in touch with the soul of Puerto Rican cuisine by cooking her way through it, a la Julie and Julia.
The Modern Art Cookbook
[Via Brain Pickings] We are enthralled by Mary Ann Caws’ Modern Art Cookbook. It seems a little different than most cookbooks, and in this book you can find recipes, illustrations and stories, not only inspired by, but sometimes written by, famous contributors to the modern art world. We could certainly see ourselves making Kahlo’s Red Snapper, Veracruz style or Picasso’s Herb Soup.
A Tribute to Nelson Mandela’s Favorite foods
As you have surely heard by now, Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday at the age of 95 after a long illness. The great humanitarian was a multifaceted man, and often spoke of food in both the literal and metaphorical sense. Speaking of one of his favorite dishes, amasi (traditional South African fermented milk), Mandela wrote to his wife Winnie from prison:
“How I long for amasi , thick and sour! You know darling there is one respect in which I dwarf all my contemporaries or at least about which I can confidently claim to be second to none – healthy appetite.”
His personal chef since 1992, Xoliswa Ndoyiya, published a cookbook, “Ukutya Kwasekhaya: Tastes from Nelson Mandela’s Kitchen,” filled with his favorite recipes. “Ukutya Kwasekhaya” means home “home cooking” in Xhosa, Nelson Mandela’s first language, and the recipes in the book exemplify the hearty and delicious home cooking of South Africa: sweet chicken, umphokoqo (corn porridge), and umsila wenkomo (oxtail-stew).
However, this isn’t the only book about Nelson Mandela and food. Anna Trapido’s book “Hunger For Freedom” weaves stories about food into Mandela’s biography. Trapido’s book includes recipes by other chefs that were among Mandela’s favorites, including stuffed crabs and chicken curry. I think we will try some recipes in tribute.
An Encyclopedia of Street Food Around the World
The Chicago Reader had a recent post about a comprehensive street food encyclopedia, Street Food Around the World, and we are completely intrigued. We live for street food, from Acaraje to Sfincione. This hefty book covers street food from all around the world, and includes history and cultural commentary as well. Is this our perfect coffee table book?
The BBC recently did a short video piece on the culinary renaissance in Brazil’s favelas, brought about by the recent pacification programs. The Guia Gastronômico das Favelas do Rio (“Gastronomical Guide to Rio’s Favelas”), mentioned in the video, was recently released, giving intrepid foodies a roadmap of 22 restaurants in eight comunidades. We’re always for unique food options – so let’s go!
What the World Eats – a photography series
A fascinating set of photographs by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio have been making the rounds this week. The pair traveled around the world in 2007, photographing families displaying one week’s worth of food – a striking set of images now published in their book, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. You can easily scroll through hi-res copies of some of the images on imgur, but it would be worth your while to slog through Menzel and D’Aluisio’s work in a series two galleries published by TIME in 2007 (galleries one, and two here, as well as a third gallery with other images from the book), since they feature information on each family’s location, weekly expenditures, and favorite meals, as well as the full set of 27 images (not all of which are on imgur).
As revealing as these photographs are, they raise as many questions about the relationship between class, nationality, ethnicity, and access to food; as well as the obvious representativeness of each family of their national origin (this is easily dealt with in the original book, but imgur leaves out all the identifying information so that each photo is just labeled with a country.) Interest and criticism aside, can we just say, can we have Menzel and D’Aluisio’s job? What lucky people to have so many families invite them into their homes – we’re sure they had many good meals come out of the project!
World Cuisines in Portugal: A Guidebook for International Foodies
On our first full day in Lisbon, after acquiring our monthly metro passes we decided to head downtown and reacquaint ourselves with Lisbon. Surprisingly, we pretty much remembered our way around, and sampled a few Pasteis de Nata as we headed toward the Tagus River. Unfortunately, it started to drizzle unexpectedly ( and counter to weather reports) so we ducked into Betrand Livreiros, a bookstore in the Chiado neighborhood, to avoid the rain. Naturally, as we waited out the weather, we starting browsing for books. There was a pretty healthy culinary section with a bunch of global cookbooks – but one in particular caught our eye: Cozinhas do Mundo em Portugal (World Cuisines in Portugal). However, this was not a cookbook, but a guidebook! Along with descriptive information about various cuisines, typical ingredients and meal structure, the book listed restaurants in Portugal that specialized in each cuisine. While the book covered all of Portugal, there are many restaurants in Lisbon. Cuisines from Asia, Europe and Africa are represented, from obvious choices like Japan and Italy to the more esoteric Guinea Bissau and Luxembourg. There are even a few Irish pubs and American restaurants listed. We just couldn’t pass up this cool book, and it is now part of our growing travel book library in Lisbon. It is already littered with sticky tabs and we are well on our way to checking a few more countries off of the list.
Paris vs. NYC
Macarons vs. Cupcakes, Cheese vs. Cheesecake, Patisserie vs. Pastrami. Vahram Muratyan’s Paris vs. NYC blog compares the cuisines, attitudes and styles of each iconic city in colorful graphics. While we were in Paris we saw the book based on the blog for sale, and it is now available stateside! You can buy the book online, along with art prints of the images.
Sweden: The Minimalist Design of the IKEA Cookbook
IKEA is primarily known for their cheap minimalist furniture and home goods. Apparently this stark and organized aesthetic also translates to their foray into cookbooks, “Hembakat är Bäst” (Homemade is Best). Not satisfied with mere lists of ingredients, the cookbook presents the ingredients as works of art in themselves, photographed by Carl Kleiner. Below is an image of the ingredients for Drommar, a type of Swedish cookie. NotCot has an extended post on these awesome images. And for those who can’t read Swedish, here is a recipe for Drommar.
Filed under Books, Design and Photography, Links
Recipe for South African Sosatie Chops
It’s the return of recipe Friday! This recipe comes from Faldela Williams’ Cape Malay Illustrated Cookbook. This slim volume covers the unique South African Cape Malay cuisine, developed by the descendents of Indian immigrants to South Africa ( a population known as the “Cape Malays” ) We think this book is probably intended for kids owning to the whimsical illustrations, but no matter – we like it too! Our entree into cooking south african food is the sosatie – a traditional barbecued kebab dish that has many permutations (as all good national dishes do). This particular version is made with pork chops instead of pieces of meat.
p.s. Sorry, the directions are all in metric! Convert here.
1kg lamb chops
2 large onions, thinly sliced
10 ml crushed garlic
3 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
5 ml tumeric (borrie)
30 ml curry powder
10 ml roasted masala
45 ml sugar
7 ml salt
60 ml lemon juice or white grape vinegar
Combine the marinade ingredients and marinade chops for one hour. Place meat and marinade in a saucepan with onions and cook, covered, over medium heat for 45-60 minutes, or until meat is tender. Serve with boiled squash and mashed potatoes.
This recipe was super easy to make – and it was absolutely delicious. The marinade itself was extremely intense (in a good way) spiced but not at all spicy. We expect it would be good for other meats like chicken as well – or beef kebabs.
The Rise and Fall of French Cuisine
The London Review of Books has a great review of a new book, Au Revoir to All That: The Rise and Fall of French Cuisine by Michael Steinberger about the role of French Cuisine in tastemaking over time. The book argues that in the past few decades French cuisine has lost its grip on the culinary imagination – but why? Simply put – failure to innovate. While France does its version of haute cuisine well, it does not do innovation as well as the US or Spain (among other locations). This, coupled with changing attitudes about food both inside and outside of France were the death-knell to France’s hold on world cuisine. I’d definitely be interested in this read.
Feeding America: Digitizing Local Cookbooks Throughout History
Feeding America is an interesting project out of Michigan State that is dedicated to digitizing local cookbooks from all eras of American history. I came across this site when I was researching recipes for St. Lucia’s Day, and found a Swedish-American bilingual cookbook from 1897. You can browsw by year or interest, which includes ethnic cookbooks, and then look at pages of the cookbook itself or a trascript of the recipes. Other great finds include Aunt Babette’s Jewish cookbook from 1889 and a Chinese-Japanese Cook Book from 1914.
The Obamas: ETW Fans?
We read today, with much interest, that the Obamas chose Marcus Samuelsson to be guest chef at their first state dinner. We found this surprising, because from our vantage point he didn’t seem like the obvious choice. Samuelsson was drubbed by Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America (27-15 in the taste category – ouch) back in 2008; and we noted in October that the line at Chicago Gourmet for an autographed copy of his new book consisted only of ETW representative L, while Rick Bayless’ line stretched for blocks. The Obamas had said previously that Bayless’ Topolobampo is their favorite Chicago restaurant – so why the switch to Samuelsson? There can only be one explanation: they read our endorsement of Samuelsson’s book and work. The Obamas must be ETW fans.
Thanks, first family!
As luck would have it…
I wrote about the book French Milk a couple of months ago – but as luck would have it I found a nearly-new copy at a used book sale on Saturday. Now that I have read the entire book I must recommend it highly!