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High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America Hardcover – January 4, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Hardcover, January 4, 2011
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Acclaimed cookbook author Harris (The Africa Cookbook, 1998) tells the story of the African diaspora through food, from the foodstuff brought along with African slaves to barely maintain them on the Middle Passage to the undeniable imprint of African American cuisine on southern American and Caribbean food. She traces African foods (yams, okra, black-eyed peas, corn), flavoring, cooking methods, and food rituals from the abduction of Africans and enslavement in the Americas to travel throughout the American and European continents, recounting tribulations and joy. Along the way, she profiles famous and obscure but gifted cooks; cooks in the big houses of slave plantations; “Pig Foot” Mary, who grew wealthy from sales of food she cooked on a stove mounted on a baby carriage; chefs who served meals to presidents; and members of a cooperative of black hoteliers in Philadelphia in the nineteenth century. Along with historical context, Harris offers recollections from her own travels and ends with selected recipes. Photographs enhance this passionate perspective on the culinary history of the African diaspora. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


“Absorbing…Ms. Harris has an eye for detail and an inquisitive manner on the page, qualities that take any writer a long way.” ―Dwight Garner, New York Times

“Harris covers a lot of territory economically, offering a tremendous cast of characters whose names deserve wider renown.” ―William Grimes, New York Times Book Review

“Our leading historian of African-American cooking continues her quest to trace the multiplicity of ways that American food has been enriched--and in many ways created--by the Africans who were forced to immigrate to North America and their descendents.” ―Vogue.com

“Anyone interested in food history will find plenty to savor in Jessica B. Harris's latest book.” ―Saveur Magazine

“A satisfying gumbo of info, insight and research.” ―USA Today

“[A]…passionate perspective on the culinary history of the African diaspora” ―Booklist

“There is more than enough for every taste in [High on the Hog]” ―Chicago Tribune

“Harris's flavorful writing moves with an effortless voice that you feel could recite most of these pages from loving memory. As much historical document as ethnography of a vital and rich gastronomy, High on the Hog is a book to make your mouth water.” ―Paste magazine

“Rejoice, all you lovers of the personal and inimitable voice of Jessica B. Harris. In High on the Hog, she has woven her own story into the epic of the African Diaspora, using food to illuminate the intertwined tapestries of Africa, Europe, and America. From General George Washington's black cook Hercules to New Orleans' famed Dooky Chase, she shows how important are the African underpinnings of the American table. Harris's passionate devotion to languages and history, together with her own compassion and wit, resonate with the humanity she espouses in all her books, but especially this one.” ―Betty Fussell, author of Raising Steaks and My Kitchen Wars

High on the Hog is a sweeping yet intimate view of food in African American life and the profound influence of blacks on American food culture. It is unusually well crafted and written with style and grace. Harris is an engaging guide in this journey that begins in Africa and ends in the twenty-first century. Her personal vignettes provide vivid detail of her experiences at sites of historical importance to the subject. She has rescued from obscurity many historical figures who make for fascinating reading and demonstrate the great range and diversity of African American achievement in areas of food culture.” ―Charles Reagan Wilson, Kelly Gene Cook Sr. professor of history and southern studies, Center for the Study of Southern Culture

“In High on the Hog, the inimitable Jessica B. Harris tells the story of the African American diaspora from the perspective of an accomplished food historian. Food, she tells us, is a metaphor for society. If so, I can't think of a better one. From slave food to Taste of Ebony, this is a gripping saga laced with descriptions of food that will make your mouth water.” ―Marion Nestle, NYU professor and author of Food Politics and What to Eat

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596913959
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596913950
  • ASIN: B0071UHUJQ
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,754,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nancy Mulvany on March 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I learned so much! Jessica Harris brings together food and cooking from West Africa and the Caribbean to the United States. She chronicles the African origin of familiar foods such as okra, yams, millet, and rice. New World crops like tomatoes, corn, peanuts, and chile peppers made their way to Africa and became an important part of African cookery. Readers are introduced to the splendor of African courts and importance of culinary rituals. The Transatlantic Slave Trade brought Africans to American shores along with a deep culinary history. The enslavement of Africans and African Americans provides the early context for the spread of traditional food and cooking. Harris draws from much original material: diaries of ship captains and travelers, interviews from the WPA slave narratives, and excerpts from old cookbooks.

As can be expected from Jessica Harris, this book is meticulously researched and written with dashing prose. This is not a cookbook. In fact, there are only twenty-two recipes. Instead, Harris pulls together the cuisines of African, Caribbean, African American, European, and early American cooking. The book includes historical illustrations, a reading list, an annotated bibliography of selected African American cookbooks, and a thorough index.

I highly recommend this book. You will learn about black cooks in kitchens of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, the origins of the Philadelphia pepperpot and creole gumbo with its odd number of greens. Harris' book will inform you and leave you hungry and wanting more.
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Format: Hardcover
growing up as a child, i lived down south and i often wondered why certain foods represented new years day and how certain other foods were called soul food and what that all meant, well finally here is a book that answers that and then some in full detail.Jessica Harris brings the full course and side dishes from Africa to America. talks about the food prepared on the Plantation And the impact of the food and time period. this is required reading and it will make you understand so much of the then and now. very detailed and quite informative.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Confession: I'm a white Northern male, born and raised up North. But my first babysitter growing up was/is the daughter of black southern migrants and I learned to love her and her cuisine, which Miss Harris describes so ably in this book. Collard greens with bacon, stove-top cornbread, hoecakes, fried green tomatoes and of course smothered and fried chicken. I ate everything she ate and I tried everything, especially caramel cake, sweet potato pie, and buttermilk pie, although I made a face at more pungent things like pickled headcheese.

The author presents African and African-American foods from past, to present, to a hypothetical future in an eminently readable way, and weaves in her own personal experiences skillfully and relevantly. I was left with curiosity and more than a little envy as I want to learn more about the author and her life- how come she gets to visit her African motherland and all over the country/world? I so clearly need a job like hers!

Harris ably chronicles such things as visits by Europeans to African royal courts, the memoirs of the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta, early slave narratives, etc. In the process of reading the work, readers will learn things they never knew before. Did you know that the rice cooking of Louisiana and the southern low country is based on the cooking of Senegal, that yam is really the name of an African tuber, that slave depots were owned and operated by wealthy mixed-race free women of color?
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Format: Hardcover
This book wasn't at all what I thought it would be, I was pleasantly surprised.
High on the Hog is a history of foods and recipes,starting in Africa and continuing on to North America, passing on from generation to generation. Not only a culinary history of African Americans, but also a basic history lesson as well. The combination of stories of real people and personal experiences makes for a very interesting book.
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Format: Hardcover
The cultural history in this book is fascinating and gives an interesting perspective for someone who is not a person of color. If you are looking for a cookbook, however, the book is a bit light on recipes. I like to collect cookbooks even though I don't cook from them much. This book was an excellent example of why that can be so satisfying. I enjoyed this book very much.

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Format: Hardcover
When most people think of African-American cuisine, what generally comes to mind is so-called "Soul Food." But black folks can cook a lot more besides such beloved staples as barbecued ribs, pigs' feet, fried chicken, chitlins, collard greens, black-eyed peas and rice, yams and potato salad. Equally-frustrating is the tendency to denigrate the African-American diet as somehow second-rate because during ante-bellum days the slaves were generally only allowed to eat the discarded parts of the livestock that the slave master didn't care for. Africans arrived on these shores with rich cultural traditions, many of which miraculously managed to survive the Middle Passage and centuries of slavery.

Astute scrutiny of the subject might lead to a linking of offerings currently found on kitchen tables in the black community to their ancestral roots back on the continent.

High on the Hog is designed to feed your mind as much as your tummy, for it brilliantly combines an array of fascinating history lessons with some easy-to-follow, mouth-watering recipes.

Read the full review and more book reviews from AALBC.com on your Kindle Edition
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