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Guide: Black Culinary History, Cookbooks and Resources

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From essential cookbooks to historical texts.

black cookbooks with bouquet flowers

Black culinary history is shared through cookbooks, memoirs, published research, oral histories, and primary source documents. But not enough.

The food space is hardly exempt from unequal representation of Black individuals and other minorities. I would bet any amount of money that the vast majority of anyone’s cookbooks are authored by white cooks — a reflection of the well-known lack of diversity in the food writing world, but perhaps also failure to seek out more black culinary history and recipes. That should change.

Authors, cooks, and culinary historians like Edna Lewis, Toni Tipton-Martin, Michael Twitty, and more have added so much to our country’s culinary scape. Edna Lewis’s cookbooks of Southern home cooking read like memoirs. Michael Twitty’s award-winning and deeply considered book about black food history and its impact is essential.

I attended Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee book signing back in late fall of 2019. She talked about how hard it was for her to find a black food photographer to shoot the photos for her gorgeous and outstanding cookbook.

These lists will continue to be updated. But for now, here are some — I emphasize some — cookbooks, memoirs, and texts focusing on black culinary history, recipes, topics, and food. They deserve to be read, celebrated, cooked from, and pondered.

Please consider sharing this article with others who like food or cooking.

cover of The Jemima Code: Black Culinary History Cookbook Resources
The Jemima Code, by Toni Tipton-Martin

A Guide: Black Culinary History and Cooking

Cookbooks

Food History, Memoirs, and Nonfiction

Articles

hercules washington chef portrait
“Portrait of George Washington’s Cook” by Gilbert Stuart (Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published in June 2020. Updated February 2021.

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