From essential cookbooks to historical texts.
This past week was an opportunity for me to learn, listen, and act on racism and inequality. The food space is hardly exempt from unequal representation of blacks and other minorities. I spent time going through my cookbook collection. The vast majority are authored by white cooks — a reflection of the well-known lack of diversity in the food writing world, but perhaps also lack of effort on my part to seek out more black culinary history and recipes. That needs to change.
I also rediscovered the culinary treasures of Edna Lewis, Toni Tipton-Martin, Michael Twitty, and more. These authors have added so much to our country’s culinary scape, from Edna Lewis’s cookbooks of Southern home cooking that read like memoirs to Michael Twitty’s award-winning and deeply considered book about black food history and its impact.
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 this 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.
- The Jemima Code, by Toni Tipton-Martin
- Jubilee, by Toni Tipton-Martin
- The Taste of Country Cooking, by Edna Lewis
- A Taste of Heritage, by Toni Tipton-Martin
- Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking, by NMAAHC et al.
- Carla Hall’s Soul Food, by Carla Hall
- Black Girl Baking, by Jerrelle Guy
- Sweetie Pie’s Recipes, by Robbie Montgomery
Food History, Memoirs, and Nonfiction
- The Cooking Gene, by Michael Twitty
- Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, by Kelley Deetz
- High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, by Jessica B. Harris
- Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons, by Jessica B. Harris
- Notes From a Young Black Chef, by Kwame Onwuache
- Yes, Chef: A Memoir, by Marcus Samuelsson
- How Enslaved Chefs Helped Shape American Cuisine, Smithsonian Magazine
- African American Culinary Chefs You Should Know, NMAAHC
- The Forgotten History of Black Chefs, Michael Twitty for Eater
- 6 Black Chefs (and 1 Inventor) Who Changed the History of Food, New York Times
- A Jury of My Peers, Kwame Onwuache
- Black-Owned Businesses to Support, Now and Always, Food52
- How to Support Black-Owned Restaurants in Your Community, Food+Wine