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The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa Hardcover – September 19, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Born Ethiopian, raised Swedish, and now one of New York City's top chefs, Samuelsson (Aquavit: And the New Scandinavian Cuisine) has written an exotic yet accessible book that will hasten the coming of the African fusion cookery he envisions. His 204 recipes and 258 color photos are enriched with personal and political history; as in his many condiments and sauces, the balance is right. While he stresses the diversity and bounty of the second-largest continent, he repeatedly describes African cuisine as poor people's cooking, crafted with simple tools and necessarily emphasizing starches, vegetables and big flavors. Whether it's rosemary for Honey Bread or turmeric, ginger and cinnamon in his Vegetable Samosas, herbs and spices are always sauteed in oil or tossed in a hot dry pan, to intensify and mellow. He even proposes toasting the cinnamon for the whipped cream accompanying his Ethiopian Chocolate Rum Cake. The recipe for the cake is typical: the batter is prepared in a single bowl, mixed with a spoon, and bakes up moist and gingerbread-like, with great keeping properties. Toasting the cinnamon takes seconds and is impressive in the complexity it delivers. (Oct.)
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In response to an earlier critique, I think that reviewer missed the gist of the book. The idea was to take the cuisine of various African countries and get the basic idea of it but then to expand that idea to something bigger. So the recipes keep a common ingredient but fix it in a unique way or use a technique with a unique combination of ingredients. I love this about the book. Samuelsson keeps techniques, such using a morter and pestle, that can't be matched with modern methods but uses modern technology, such as the mandoline, when it performs the needed task more easily, and in this case if your knife skills are lacking, with better results. I do agree, however, that the photographs that go with the recipes can be misleading. I'm still not sure what the Stir Fry Beef Stew is supposed to look like. The pictures on the pages with the recipe are vastly different and not labeled but both could be the stew in question.
All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves cooking and ethnic foods. The flavors are out of this world and the recipes are highly inspiring.
It is obvious that Mr. Samuelsson is a very talented chef. Some of the recipes are relatively simple to make but others have quite a few steps. I can assure you they are worth the effort.
I have not been as impressed with a cookbook in many, many years. I bought this cookbook on a whim and and I am sure glad I did. I could not recommend this cookbook more highly.
Thank you, Marcus Samuelsson!
The photos are beautiful and convey the beauty of Africa and its people. I recommend this book for anyone who likes good food!