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Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed Hardcover – April 8, 2014
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Chef-author Terry (Vegan Soul Kitchen, 2009; The Inspired Vegan, 2012) introduces the concept of food justice, a philosophy that he defines as good food being an everyday right, and not just a privilege. His book is also an introduction to the various ways (more than 100, in short) that African cuisine can go mainstream. Pointing out the high incidence of African Americans with diet-preventable diseases, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, Terry sets out to help correct that situation one meal at a time, jumping right into specific dishes and their preparation. The first section is about spices and sauces. For instance, familiar seasonings tango with pomegranate-peach barbecue sauce, while slow-braised mustard greens dance with an all-green spring slaw. Each recipe, interestingly, includes at least one soundtrack recommendation, which frequently is also accompanied by a film or book suggestion. His sidebars cover, among other topics, toasting whole spices and cooking black-eyed peas and millet. He’s careful not to overemphasize (and overproselytize) the vegan nature of his recipe collection; instead, he focuses on flavor, on coaxing out unique smells and tastes. --Barbara Jacobs
Nominated for a 2015 NAACP Image Award, Outstanding Literary Work
James Beard Foundation 2015 Leadership Award
Best Cookbooks of 2014—Serious Eats
Best Cookbooks of 2014—Mother Jones
Best Cookbooks of 2014—Shape
“I’m a big fan of food. I’m also a fan of stories. What Bryant Terry has done with Afro-Vegan is tell a new and important story of food. He’s connected health with history and culture and made the combination delicious. As important, he’s encouraging all of us to learn the story of the food we make and consume and helping us generate our own stories as we share these healthy eats with the communities we love.”
—Baratunde Thurston, best-selling author of How to Be Black and CEO and cofounder of Cultivated Wit
“Bryant Terry crafts recipes and weaves narrative to shine truth on Southern food. This is cooking that empowers and encourages, and tells the story of the nourishment of a community. Afro-Vegan shows us how to be proud of our storied, vegetable-rich foodways.”
—Hugh Acheson, chef and author of A New Turn in the South
“Afro-Vegan animates the cuisine of the African diaspora with the detail, reverence, and passion it deserves. Bryant elevates our often-overlooked culinary traditions and infuses a personal, smart, and practical love. He goes beyond teaching us to cook. He inspires us to celebrate and explore.”
—Dayo Olopade, author of The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa
“If A People’s History Of The United States and Joy of Cooking had a baby, Afro-Vegan would be it!”
—Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of Veganomicon and Isa Does It
“In this beautiful, casual collection of recipes from across the African diaspora, Bryant Terry brings to life a vegetable, grain, spice-based culinary heritage too often ignored. Afro-Vegan is a historically compelling, delicious blueprint for both a plant-based diet and a true, African-derived cuisine.”
—Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal
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In addition to over 100 intriguing recipes (I’ve made about six since getting the book last week, and they were amazing), Chef Terry shares his obvious passion for life and food, for music and art, for high culture and down-home good times, for gourmet appetites and raw-knuckled activism. Somehow all these diverse elements mix it up and produce an elegant work in which each flavor stands out, yet complements the others.
At one level, this is a cookbook for African Americans, showing the way back to a traditional, healthy, local, seasonal, and plant-centered diet that speaks of community, resilience, innovation, and love.
At another level, Afro-Vegan is also for all of us who - whether we know it or not - owe African-American culture a huge debt of gratitude. From the African farming techniques that are being rediscovered by modern permaculturalists, to the explosive flavor mixtures that arose from the African Diasporic experience, to the incisive and sometimes incendiary beats and memes of modern hip-hop; this book is a guide and a celebration of it all.
Each recipe, for example, is accompanied by a suggested soundtrack. The track for the Blackened Seasoning I made over the weekend is Buckwheat Zydeco’s “Let Your Yeah Be Yeah.” I swear I could hear the accordion in every bite of the blackened cauliflower cutlets.
Afro-Vegan also contains stories and profiles of folks I feel privileged to meet in its pages. It’s full of appreciation for the heroes - sung and unsung - of the various movements of liberation and exploration whose efforts have paved the way for Mr Terry’s considerable accomplishments.
But enough of that - it’s a cookbook, and you want to know about the recipes.
Chef Terry begins with a chapter on spice mixtures, from Ethiopian Berbere to Cajun Blackened Seasoning to to several others. By roasting and grinding them in advance, I was able to put together the recipes that rely on these flavors quickly and easily.
The recipes hail from all over Africa, the Caribbean, and the US south. Chef Terry's encyclopedic knowledge of techniques and ingredients from all over the world allow him to synthesize and fuse artistically: North African chermoula sauce meets tempeh (fermented Indonesian soybean cake); Jamaican patty filled with Lousiana maque choux; Brazilian vatapa informed with Southern okra, corn, and tomatoes. Just about every recipe features a surprising yet intuitive cultural conversation.
Dirty millet (I used quinoa, don't tell) with fresh and dried mushrooms was moist and robust, satisfying any carnivore's desire for the mouthfeel of flesh. Slow-braised mustard greens was so good, my 14-year-old son asked for thirds!
The meals I’ve made from Afro-Vegan have been delicious and unlike any others I’ve encountered. I own about 30 vegan cookbooks, and this one contributes significantly to plant-based cuisine.
Afro-Vegan is a beautiful, big-hearted, brash, and brilliant new friend, and is helping me grow as a cook and as a person.