The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent

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9781439193303: The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent

With more than two hundred traditional and contemporary recipes, The Africa Cookbook is a unique window into the long culinary history of a diverse continent. From the savory stews of the western savannah to the curries and chutneys of the Swahili coasts, prominent scholar Jessica Harris has assembled a collection of recipes that reflects the modern innovations and rich heritage of kitchens across Africa. Potatoes with Mint Leaves and Garlic from Algeria and Senegal’s classic Theibou Dienn are among the many flavorful dishes that offer a change of pace for contemporary North Americans. Illustrated with archival photographs and peppered with history and anecdote, The Africa Cookbook is a celebration of cultures and individuals whose contributions to the way we eat have long been ignored.

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Review:

Mr. Mercator, maker of wall maps, would have us believe that the continent of Africa is this piddly little thing, mostly below the equator, weighed down by the size and majesty of Europe. Jessica B. Harris, author of The Africa Cookbook, shows us how big this continent truly is (three times the landmass of Europe; 1,000 different languages); how incredibly ancient its history is; how grand and majestic is the sweep of cooking styles and food flavors that shift from north to south, east to west; and how up-to-the-minute and relevant those food and flavor experiences can be. As with any of Harris's previous books, the reader can savor equal portions of eye-opening scholarship, delectable storytelling, and delicious recipes.

The book is divided into chapters that discuss the edible history of Africa, the range of food regions in Africa, a glossary of African ingredients and utensils, and an argument that the much vaunted Mediterranean diet needs to look south for its origins. Recipe chapters fall along traditional lines: appetizers, salads and soups, condiments, vegetables, main dishes, breads and starches, desserts, and beverages--and include dishes from all over the continent. You will find the likes of Sardine Fritters (Algeria), Avocado and Papaya Salad (Kenya), Pili Pili Sauce (western Africa), Mashed Eggplant à la Zeinab (Sudan), and Grilled Shrimp Pili Pili (Mozambique).

Africa, Harris argues, isn't the Dark Continent, but the "continent about which we are in the dark." Use The Africa Cookbook to taste your way into the light. --Schuyler Ingle

About the Author:

Jessica B. Harris holds a PhD from NYU, teaches English at Queens College, and lectures internationally. The author of the memoir My Soul Looks Back as well as twelve cookbooks, her articles have appeared in Vogue, Food & Wine, Essence, and The New Yorker, among other publications; she has made numerous television and radio appearances and has been profiled in The New York Times. Considered one of the preeminent scholars of the food of the African Diaspora, Harris has been inducted into the James Beard Who’s Who in Food and Beverage in America, received an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University and recently helped the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture to conceptualize its cafeteria.

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