I list reading cookbooks as one of my favorite pastimes. The Antiracist Kitchen: 21 Stories (and Recipes) has more to read than most cookbooks and each of the stories moved me toward understanding, caring, and wanting to try the recipe.
Although I’m unfamiliar with a number of the authors because they are published in Canada, reading their memories of childhood and their connection to the food of their culture has me seeking out their books.
The introduction by Nadia L. Hohn, the editor, defines racism in a clear manner. But the purpose of this cookbook is to show us what being antiracist can be. She writes, “When we pay attention to each other’s stories, we can start to care, an important step in ending racism. I feel like the more we talk about these issues, the more we can heal ourselves and our communities, and find solutions.”
Ms. Hohn shares her own experience: “As a classroom teacher, I enjoy cooking with my students. Through making sugar cookies, Haitian soup joumou and hot chocolate, Jamaican corn soup, fondue, crêpes, and fried plantains, I have been able to build community and teach about slavery, emancipation, and decolonization.”
If the meaning of those last two words isn’t immediately familiar to you, there is a glossary in the back matter with definitions. I most often read e-books and I’m appreciative that those words are underlined, in boldface italics, and colored blue. I can click on them, which takes me right to their place in the glossary and then there’s an arrow to take me back to where I was reading. Brilliant.
Her recipe is cornmeal porridge. Measurements are given for cups and teaspoons as well as grams and milliliters. Directions are straightforward and easy to follow.
There are beautiful color photos of the food, the contributors, and artwork by Roza Nozari, all of which add to the weaving of this book, weaving a whole cloth of love and memories and a more inclusive future.
In “Fusion Fried Potatoes,” Janice Lynn Mather writes, “I don’t always fit in. I don’t always match. I pick things up, though. I learn bits and pieces. I blend and create. I make my own way. Sometimes it’s sweet.”
Natasha Deen writes about a bully and forgiveness in “A Cake for My Bully.” I defy you to finish reading it with a dry eye.
“Grandma’s Greens Chase the Blues Away,” by Bryan Patrick Avery, had me crying for his hurt and pain and loving his caring grandmother.
Waubgeshig Rice explains his last name, and why his children have a different last name, in “Manoomin.”
Linda Sue Park shares a memory of her “Girl Scout Breakfast,” and how disgusted they were about Fried Bologna … until they tried it.
I’ve learned so much from reading The Antiracist Kitchen. The stories and recipes kept me turning the page, reflecting, and bookmarking five of the recipes to try immediately.
It’s a terrific cookbook and an even better collection of stories from people I would like to know better. I believe you’ll treasure it as much as I do (and I’m buying the hardcover for my cookbook shelves.)