THE WELCOME TABLE by Jessica B. Harris

THE WELCOME TABLE

African-American Heritage Cooking
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In this terrific book Harris (Tasting Brazil, 1992) continues to examine the effect of the African diaspora on our plates and palates. Harris is no dabbler. When she tackles a subject she does so forcefully, as she has done with the recipes collected here. There are five variations on cornbread, ranging from white cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet to a modern jalape§o version, along with spoon bread, hush puppies, and johnnycakes. Headers for these recipes are informative, well researched, and often wryly funny (``Okra is the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables,'' begins one on Fried Okra). The chapters, organized traditionally (appetizers, condiments, desserts, etc.), each begin with a profile of an African-American, like Agnes Louard, a retired professor who recalls her mother's chicken-frying prowess, and poet Maxine Clair, who explains how her current vegetarian diet dovetails with the way she ate as a child. In a lively and thorough introduction, Harris notes that these recipes are traditional- -especially the many using bacon drippings--but encourages readers to convert them if desired. There are, however, plenty of refreshingly light choices here as well. For example, cucumbers marinated in vinegar with onions and allspice berries are invigorating. Occasionally, the simpler recipes are on the vague side: One for frying green tomatoes instructs to cut them into ``thick slices'' and neglects to give an estimated time for them to brown. Discoveries like Stoup, a combination of stew and soup, and a tender dandelion salad topped with hot bacon dressing more than counterbalance any failings. Both warmly personal and exactingly professional. (24 2-color line drawings, 26 photos, not seen) (First serial to Gourmet)*justify no*  In this terrific book Harris (Tasting Brazil, 1992) continues to examine the effect of the African diaspora on our plates and palates. Harris is no dabbler. When she tackles a subject she does so forcefully, as she has done with the recipes collected here. There are five variations on cornbread, ranging from white cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet to a modern jalape§o version, along with spoon bread, hush puppies, and johnnycakes. Headers for these recipes are informative, well researched, and often wryly funny (``Okra is the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables,'' begins one on Fried Okra). The chapters, organized traditionally (appetizers, condiments, desserts, etc.), each begin with a profile of an African-American, like Agnes Louard, a retired professor who recalls her mother's chicken-frying prowess, and poet Maxine Clair, who explains how her current vegetarian diet dovetails with the way she ate as a child. In a lively and thorough introduction, Harris notes that these recipes are traditional- -especially the many using bacon drippings--but encourages readers to convert them if desired. There are, however, plenty of refreshingly light choices here as well. For example, cucumbers marinated in vinegar with onions and allspice berries are invigorating. Occasionally, the simpler recipes are on the vague side: One for frying green tomatoes instructs to cut them into ``thick slices'' and neglects to give an estimated time for them to brown. Discoveries like Stoup, a combination of stew and soup, and a tender dandelion salad topped with hot bacon dressing more than counterbalance any failings. Both warmly personal and exactingly professional. (24 2-color line drawings, 26 photos, not seen) (First serial

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-79360-8
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1994




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