Bryant Terry’s collard greens are lightly braised and tossed with raisins and citrus; his okra lightly crisped and served with a lime-thyme vinaigrette; his sweet tea is sweetened with fresh-squeezed orange juice and agave nectar (the latter also sweetens a strawberry pop, herb infused limeades and a ginger-hibiscus cocktail inspired by his favorite Senegalese restaurant in Brooklyn). He offers three versions of Hoppin’ John and, for the record, I’m still making the Black-Eyed Pea and Peanut fritters from his first book, Grub. “Think Alice Waters meets Melvin Van Peeples,” writes Terry, of his own cooking style, which connects the dots between the fresh food his grandparents grew in their South Memphis kitchen garden, African-American soul food and recipes for local, seasonal food he has made as an adult in Brooklyn and Oakland urban kitchens. Recipes are paired with suggested soundtracks: Garlic broth makes him think of Etta James; sweet corn broth conjures TV on the Radio; and Strawberry and Slightly Hot Pepper Jam goes best with Run-DMC. Not only does Terry provide six recipes for using each part of a fresh watermelon — whole slices with basil sea salt, a martini, a vinaigrette, a sorbet, and spiced pickle rinds — he also suggests a couple films about the “stereotypes associated with black folks eating watermelon.” And his California-Applejack Toddy is inspired by Fred Sanford’s favorite drink, accompanied, of course, by the DVD box set of “Sanford and Son” along with the book Revolution Televised by Christine Acham. Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian — you could serve an entire family of meat eaters on his food and they’d ask for more.
About the Author
Amy Benfer has worked as an editor and staff writer at Salon, Legal Affairs, and Paper magazine. Her reviews and features on books have appeared in Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Believer, Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Times Book Review.