by Becky LeJeune
Toni Tipton-Martin, author of The Jemima Code, is back with another in-depth look at the history of African American cooking, it’s influences on popular dishes today, and, of course, recipes galore, in our February cookbook club pick, Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook!
Jubilee is the result of research that included nearly 400 black cookbooks dating back to the 1800s, an attempt to trace the history of black cooking beyond stereotypes. Yes, the book includes a section on fried chicken. It also includes gumbos, red beans and rice, and other dishes I myself grew up eating in our Cajun household—all dishes well-known for their African and Caribbean influences. But beyond that, Tipton-Martin offers a peek inside the household and professional kitchens of black middle class home cooks and classically trained chefs alike. And foods that may not be commonly known for their African American influences.
Recipes have been adapted for a modern kitchen in many places, but sidebars throughout the book include historical recipes as originally published in their respective books. Which is excellent for its historical value but also because the book has a massive plethora of recipes to try!
For example, Tipton-Martin’s Okra Salad is based on a Brazilian dish. Her version is a play on a historical version with a modern twist and using fried okra. And then, on the following page there is a recipe for Fried Okra as it appears in the 1992 book, Bittle en’T’ing’: Gullah Cooking with Maum Chrish. The Baked Macaroni and Cheese (which is an excellent baked macaroni and cheese recipe!) is accompanied by a recipe for Macaroni Croquettes, Cheese Sauce, from Mrs. W. T. Hayes’s 1912 book, The Kentucky Cook Book: easy and Simple for Any Cook, by a Colored Woman.
Happy eating! Remember to sign up for the book club over on ReadClubHub. And be sure to post your pictures to social media using the hashtag: #BookBarCookClub