Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool Cookbook: The Global Migration of African Cuisine

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Fifteen years in the making, this book emerges as a new approach to presenting culinary information. It showcases a myriad of sumptuous, mouth-watering recipes comprising the many commonalities in ingredients and methods of food preparation of people of color from various parts of the globe. This powerful book traces and documents the continent's agricultural and mineral prosperity and the strong role played by ancient explorers, merchants, and travelers from Africa's east and west coasts in making lasting culinary and cultural marks on the United States, the Caribbean, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, India, and Southeast Asia.

Groundbreaking in its treatment of heritage survival in African and African American cooking, this illuminating book broadens the scope of cuisine as it examines its historical relationship to a host of subjects -- including music, advertising, sexual exploitation, and publishing. Provocative in its perspective, The Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool Cookbook dispels the long-standing misnomer that African cuisine is primitive, unsophisticated or simply non-existent, and serves as a reference in understanding how Africa's contributions continue to mark our cuisine and culture today.

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Editorial Reviews

This is no ordinary cookbook. Spivey (history, U. of Miami) relates a complicated story of cultural survival, presenting recipes used by people of African descent currently living around the world, along with a documented history of Africa's agricultural life and of the roles played by explorers and merchants in the spread of African cuisine. This book dispels the myth that there is no such thing as African cuisine, and replaces it with an understanding of how Africa's flavorful contributions continue to characterize a variety of foods and cultures today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791443767
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 422
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 8.93 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents



Chapter One
Feasting among the "Eastern Ethiopians": The African Element in Dravidian Cuisine

Chapter Two
Catfish, Harvest, and Celebration among the Sons and Daughters of Kambu

Chapter Three
Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool: African Foods and Culinary Heritage in Mexico and Central America

Chapter Four
Zancu, Sweet Potatoes, and Beer: African Merchants and Peruvian Kitchens, from the Coast to the Highlands

Chapter Five
Body and Soul: The Miscegenation of Cuisine and Culture in Brazil and Cuba

Chapter Six
Without Rival, Anywhere: The Cultural Impact of the African Cook in the Americas

Chapter Seven
Economics, War, and the Northern Migration of the Southern Black Cook

Chapter Eight
Flapjacks and Blue Notes


Sources for Specialty Foods

Bibliographical Notes


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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2003

    Eliminates the perception that African cooking is inferior

    As a fan of ethnography and food folkways, I found this book interesting. The first thing that jumped out at me was the author's note of thanks to Embassies of Laos, Peru, and India... Intriguing? African cuisine migrated to India? To Laos? The second thing that jumped out at me was the first recipe, which called for "egusi seeds." No worries - there is nearly 100 pages of glossary, sources of ingredients, and bibliography. The third thing that you notice is the author's penchant for railing against those Eurocentric writers who discredited African foodstuffs and cuisine, and denied the Africanism of Egypt and the Olmecs. Even if you never prepare a single recipe, this book serves as a source of African culinary and social history. Nearly every recipe is followed by a bit of history and the story of African migratory influences. Chapter 1 focuses on "Eastern Ethiopians" and Dravidians (the Southern Indians including speakers of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada) -- participants in the lucrative spice trade for centuries. Highlights for me included "Mississippi Masala Rice"; "Sesame Yam Patties"; "Doro Wat", a chicken in pepper sauce; and "Lamb and Beef Dar Es Salaam" with 7 spices and 3 meats. Chapter 2 is on the Sons and Daughters of Kambu, or those Ethiopian-Indians who migrated and influenced Southeast Asian, Khmer,and Cambodian societies. While highlighting the similarities in certain rituals in Southeast Asia and Africa, the recipes include: Spicy Fish in Peanut Sauce, Afro-Khmer Shrimp and Spicy Rice, Black-Eyed Spring Rolls, and Khmer Sweet Black Eyed Peas (like Hoppin' John, it reminded me of the film "Catfish in Black Bean Sauce"). Chapter 3 is on "Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool" or African cuisine found in Mexico and Central America. The "knots" refers to African hair. While the author discusses African influences, as well as an Almec-Africa connection, her recipes include: Masar Spicy Roasted Turkey; Yam and Plantain Fruit Pudding; Balimaya Pek Corn Dumpling Stew; and Hunabqu Omon Corn and Masa Soup. Chapter 4 presents the story of Africa in Peru and the highlands, titled "Zancu, Sweet Potatoes and Beer." Recipes include: Garden Patties with Onion and Cassava Cream Gravy; Zancu; and Yugeno (a cocktail known as the Peruvian blowdart). Chapter 5, titled, "Body and Soul" The Miscengenation of Cuisine and Culture in Brazil and Cuba," focuses on Brazil and Cuba, while Chapter 6 focuses on America, Haiti, Maroon settlements, and other Caribbean islands. The author, fond of cakes since childhood, include several cake recipes including a Chocolate Coconut cake and a Coconut Cake. "Brazen Tomatoes" will catch your attention. I enjoyed the final two chapters the most. Chapter 7 is a study of the migration of the African American cooks from the American South to the North of the country, and Chapter 8 is titled "Flapjacks and Blue Notes." Recipes include those for dinner rolls; smothered steak; Dr. Carver's peach leather; Booker T's fried chicken; lamb chops in thyme and mushrooms; and a very large variety of flapjacks.

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