23 April 2009

A Safari Of African Cooking

A Safari Of African Cooking is an old paperback from 1971. It was published by Broadside Press, a Michigan publishing house that rose to fame in the late 1960’s publishing some of the finest African-American poets in the last century including Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, and Nikki Giovanni to name an dazzling few.

Bill Odarty ran a wholesale store specializing in African goods. When he went looking for a cookbook of traditional African cooking, he found none. He wanted to rectify the situation with A Safari Of African Cooking.

My friend K.C. came to visit and she brought a wonderful hostess gift. Her husband is African and the women in his family blend spices for their cooking, a normal occurrence in kitchens everywhere. K.C. shared with me a collection of the spice blends Wendu's sister had mixed. Each came with a note bearing the spice name and what it used in cooking. It was a truly wonderful gift.

This is a Zambian recipe for cabbage stew. This is a recipe that can easily be made with a bag of “slaw”. I am always amazed that more people don’t take advantage of bagged cabbage, sold as “slaw” when it is perfectly wonderful cooked.

Cabbage Stew

1 lb. cabbage
2 medium onions, chopped
1-3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tbls, oil or shortening
curry powder
1 cup water

Wash and cut up vegetables. Fry onions in ho oil until light brown. Add curry powder, salt and pepper to taste. Add water and cabbage; steam until soft (about 20 minutes). Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 more minutes. Stir all together and serve with meat. For a larger quantity of stew, add the gravy from the meat. Also, potatoes may be substituted for half the quantity of cabbage if preferred.

With all the cookbooks published these days, it is still no an easy task to walk into a bookshop and find a cookbook specializing in the cuisine of Africa, North Africa perhaps being the exception. The best book to come along on the subject in recent memory is Marcus Samuelsson's The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa. Still, with the interest in African culture, one would think there would a plethora of titles. The lack of such books is sad. If you have a favorite cookbook on African cuisine, let me know.

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