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19 October 2009

Soul of a New Cuisine

The Soul of a New Cuisine

Two autumns ago, when Danny was still working full-time as a chef, and we were still living in Seattle, I sat in a Starbucks in Madison Park, excited.

Marcus Samuelsson would be there soon.

His glorious cookbook, The Soul of a New Cuisine, had come out the year before, and we had been dog-earing pages and ogling photographs all that time. The paperback had been brought out by Starbucks, who sponsored his tour across the States. That's why I was sitting in a coffee shop, waiting to hear one of the best chefs in America speak about Africa.

First of all, I have to tell you that Marcus Samuelsson is beautiful. I don't mean in a Hollywood kind of way. He has absorbing eyes and a grace that's rare to see. There's something special about this man, something mesmerizing.

When the time came for questions, I raised my hand. I knew that Samuelsson had written this book with the hopes of encouraging chefs and home cooks to turn toward the cuisines of the African continent more often, to create new dishes with the flavors of Morocco and Ethiopia, Senegal and South Africa. So I asked him, "Is there any one dish from Africa that you wish people in the States ate too?"

Immediately, he said, "It's not a dish. It's ubuntu. I wish people here ate with ubuntu."

In his book, Samuelsson wrote, "Whenever I pick up the newspaper and read a story about Africa, it's almost always negative: war, famine, AIDS, corruption. And it's true that a lot of bad things happen in Africa. But this is not the only Africa I know. I know an Africa that is a land of great beauty, and of beautiful people. It's a land of ubuntu — "I am what I am because of who we all are" — the idea is that there is a universal bond of sharing that connects all people, and calls for humanity toward others. This word...defines a traditional African spirit that I saw connecting and unifying people throughout the continent....In Africa you are surrounded by people everywhere you go, and the spirit of community is embracing, even in the most impoverished areas. "

At that Starbucks, in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Seattle, Samuelsson talked about ubuntu in food. How it is an honor and responsibility across Africa to feed your friends and neighbors, to welcome everyone to the table. Even if you have very little money, you spend what you have to make sure that everyone eats.

I have never forgotten that comment.

And it is with that ubuntu spirit that Samuelsson wrote The Soul of a New Cuisine. Here, there is such a generosity of spirit, a sharing of culture, and a willingness to cross beyond the borders of nations to create the best food possible. What other cookbook has a foreward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu? Samuelsson didn't seem to write this to become famous. He wanted to help us all to cook with more flavors and start to savor a continent that is all too easy to ignore.

This is, perhaps, why it is one of the best cookbooks that we own.

We've been cooking out of it all week.

some of the flavors of Soul of a New Cuisine

Unlike last week, when we cooked out of a book entirely new to us, we chose to go back to one we had loved before. Danny once did an entire month's menu based on the cuisine of Africa after reading this book. So I already knew that the black-eyes peas dish is unexpectedly creamy, the chili-spiced lamb sandwiches are addictive, and the chocolate pancakes with bananas flambe are fabulous. (They're also easy to convert to gluten-free, since they only call for 5 tablespoons of flour.)

But no matter how many recipes we had tried before, we certainly had not cooked all of them. How many dishes do you make out of a cookbook, generally? Even the ones you love? From what I understand from publishers and culinary conferences, the average cookbook is only opened 5 times. And the owners of that book generally make only 1 recipe.

That statistic is a little depressing to think about when you are writing a cookbook, as we are, and taking meticulous care with each recipe.

So this week, we doubled back and started making more recipes from The Soul of a New Cuisine. And in doing so, we brought more flavors into our kitchen, once again.

In the photograph above, in the top left-hand corner, is duqqa (also spelled dukka), a spice mix originally from the Middle East, and now popular all over North Africa, especially in Egypt. The recipe for it in Samuelsson's book calls for hulled pumpkin seeds, peanuts, peppercorns, and thyme, among other ingredients. On the top right is berbere, the densely layered spice mix used in nearly every Ethiopian dish, with fennugreek and chiles, paprika and ginger. On the lower right is a spiced butter, also from Ethiopian cuisine, which is a clarified butter infused with spices, including turmeric, which is why it's so yellow. And on the left are cardamom pods, which have such a heavenly scent I would make everything with them some days, if I could.

The spice mixes are especially important in cooking from this book, because cooks in Africa don't rely on salt and pepper, the way we do here, or olive oil or lard. Instead, it is the spice mixes that build layers of flavor.

Let me tell you — that spice butter alone is worth making from this book. I clarified butter late at night, tired from writing, at that nearly-midnight state of mind. But the smells woke me up. And the chicken thighs coated in berbere and roasted with spiced butter were better than almost any chicken I have eaten in months. Because the berbere and spiced butter were in our kitchen, I had dinner in 15 minutes.

I love that Samuelsson offers traditional recipes in this cookbook, but he also makes up new ones, fusing the flavors and techniques with west and southern Africa, or a little bit of Asian. Reflecting the way of eating in Africa, he also encourages readers to have good ingredients and then measure by instinct, in pinches and handfuls, rather than teaspoons and cups. That made me enjoy these meals even more than I would have if I had cooked with a furrowed brow and highlighter pen.

It's clear that Samuelsson just wants his readers to cook good food.

salmon soaking in oil

And cook good food this week we did. We made the lentil stew with brussels sprouts instead of fava beans, and we ate it happily for days. The creamed swiss chard with turmeric, cabbage, and cream is my new favorite way to eat that vegetable. I want to make the pumpkin mash for Thanksgiving.

My only problem was with the injera recipe, which relies on wheat flour instead of only teff. I know that Samuelsson was trying to make injera accessible for typical Americans, but I want to learn the traditional method!

Still, I stopped complaining when I ate the salmon skewers with tamarind sauce. Here is the salmon, sitting in oil before being coated in a thick sauce of tamarind paste, curry powder, red wine vinegar, and wine. The recipe calls for these to be grilled, but we just used the last of our propane tank last week. So Danny seared them, then finished them in the oven. The tangy taste of the tamarind, the slight sweetness, the heft of a complex sauce reduced well? They made the salmon memorable, something different. We've been eating salmon for months, and we both wanted more of this.

So did Little Bean.

That's one of the main reasons we'd like to recommend The Soul of a New Cuisine to you. There are many, many incredible cookbooks in the world. They all deserve food-stained pages. But this is the only cookbook we know that honors the diverse cuisines of the continent we seem to forget. We want our daughter to grow up with many flavors in her memory. Instead of nagging her to clean her plate because people are starving in Africa, we want to offer her plantain-crusted yellowtail, doro wett, and bobotie sometimes.

We hope that she grows up with ubuntu in her heart.


We think you would enjoy this cookbook too, which is why we are giving away a copy of it this week. Leave a comment telling us about your favorite foods from African cuisine, or why you want to learn it, or how you express ubuntu through food in your community. We would like to hear.

squash-apple fritters

Apple-Squash Fritters, adapted from Soul of a New Cuisine

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon with our good friends, Matt and Danika. We would hang out with them any day, for any reason, but this time we had work. There was baking and making of food to be done. We made the bread recipe for our book one more time (score! they loved it) and some doughnuts to try for a friend (they didn't work gluten-free, yet, but they will, soon) and these fritters to fry up in peanut oil.

When I saw the recipe for these fritters, inspired by South Africa's Cape Malay cuisine, I knew this had to be one of the recipes for this week. Apples and squash are both in season now. And with the original recipe calling for only 1/3 of a cup of flour, we figured it would be pretty easy to adapt gluten-free.

We laughed as the kids played at the toy kitchen or climbed on the couch, chattering away, then dancing. (Little Bean LOVES their little guy. We call him her boyfriend.) The roasted apples and squash smelled good enough to eat in that state, but we waited. Danny mashed them with a fork, and I thought of harvest feasts. He shaped them into soft balls and heated up the peanut oil. We all hovered at the stove in anticipation. Finally, they were ready.

Matt and I are both dorky enough that we stood over the wooden table in the corner, taking photographs, instead of eating them right away. Little Bean, as you can see, was smarter. She started to grab one, so we moved back into the kitchen to try one.

Silence.

"Oh my god," we all moaned. We went back to silent chewing. These have a slightly crisp crust and a soft squash and apple ooze inside. The garam masala gives them just enough savory taste that you could serve these alongside game or pork. All I know is that I agree with Matt: "I could eat so many of these that I'd be physically sick, and I'd still want more."

These are going to be on our Thanksgiving table, to be sure.


2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 2-inch cubes (we used Jonagolds)
2 pounds Kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour plus 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 cups peanut oil

Preheating. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Roasting the apples, squash, and garlic. Put the apple and squash pieces, plus the garlic cloves, on a baking sheet. Brush them with the olive oil. Roast in the oven until the garlic has softened, about 15 minutes. Take out the garlic and put the baking sheet back in the oven. Roast the apple and squash until they are soft, about 20 more minutes.

Making cinnamon sugar. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together.

Mashing the squash mixture. Put the roasted apples, squash, and garlic in a large bowl. Mash them all together with a fork or potato masher. Add the garam masala, salt, cornstarch, the sorghum flour, 1/4 cup of the sweet rice flour, and xanthan gum. Stir until combined. Shape the dough, which will be soft, into 2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the remaining sweet rice flour.

Frying the fritters. Heat the peanut oil in a deep pot (make sure no little ones are nearby) until it reaches 350° on a candy thermometer. Lower the squash balls into the oil, gently, and let them fry, turning them once in a while, until they are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Take the fritters out of the oil with a slotted spoon, pausing to let the oil drip back into the pot, and put them on paper towels.

Sprinkle the fritters with the cinnamon sugar and eat as soon as they are cool enough to touch.

Feeds 4 hungry adults, plus a couple of little ones.

122 Comments:

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Shauna from Piece of Cake said...

Such gorgeous photos and a beautiful story.

And heck, I'll say it. Marcus Samuelsson is totally hot, in a completely non-poetic way.

 
At 9:52 PM, Blogger Tartelette said...

Yes, Little Bean will have ubuntu in her heart. How can she not with two wonderful parents like you?!!

Bookmarked for way earlier than Thanksgiving :)

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Julie said...

Wow, can I be first?

I'm familiar with the word ubuntu. I know a woman who picked up and moved to Rwanda from Canada in her 60s and started an organization - built a village, really - called Ubuntu. It's a beautiful word. I'm fortunate to have the chance to see through her eyes all the beauty there is in Africa, and particularly in the people.

I'm thrilled that you shared foods that are entirely new to me - I've made dukkah before, the last time I skewered cubes of salmon and dipped one side into it - but the fritters! The clarified butter! It's pushing midnight and I'm inspired to get myself up and stand by the stovetop to make a batch. I'll have to wait for tomorrow.

Thanks for the inspiration, and the reminder to keep ubuntu in our hearts!

 
At 9:58 PM, Anonymous white on rice couple said...

You've convinced us. Just the talk on the spice butter alone makes us excited. Marcus's cuisine is so colorful, honest and delicious. Thank you so much for another amazing piece.

 
At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Jodi said...

what a beautiful post. thank you for introducing me to this lovely book with such a simple yet rich message.

 
At 10:26 PM, Blogger Ceri said...

Here is a recipe for injera, I guest blogged the recipe http://culinariaeugenius.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/ethiopian-injera-in-eugene-can-you-dig-it/

Enjoy!

 
At 10:43 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Wow - I am so inspired!! I would love to try my hand at some of the recipies in this book. I am trying to get to Africa next fall for a mission trip and this sounds like a great way to prepare :)

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger Ann said...

I love it! Tonight I braised some chicken thighs in tomato paste, chicken broth, caramelized onions and garlic, and scads of berbere, thinking wistfully of the Ethiopian food I used to be able to get when I lived in Portland. It was tasty, but not what I had in my "tongue's"-eye. Here in Bellingham, our only fix is a lovely lady at the farmer's market.

I've been smitten with Marcus Samuelsson for years. He is truly a beautiful man. (Don't tell my sweetie I said so.)

I can't wait to go to the spice store!

 
At 12:21 AM, Blogger Yakov said...

Those fritters look delicious. The only African cuisines I've cooked from are Ethiopian and Moroccan. Doro wat, chicken with tons of spices, is a perennial favorite here. Mmm, maybe I'll make it again this week.

 
At 12:57 AM, OpenID ellenp1214 said...

this book sounds awesome. i love ethiopian food-- from the tangy injera, to the lentil dishes, to the soft and spiced okra or the braised meat. i would love to know how to make it!

 
At 2:05 AM, Blogger Tassiegal said...

We have a tiny Ethopian resturant in Hobart started and run by refugees. Its an amazing place to eat, unpretencious and good solid home cooked food. Having grown up with a South African mother, I have occasional cravings for koeksisters, boerwors and ooma rusks. All three of which got me through the death of my father earlier this year. Not sure how to make either the first or the last GF though....may require me to experiment. Good bobotie is an amzing thing to behold in the mouth. I'll stop waffling now.

 
At 2:07 AM, Blogger Lily said...

Oh, wow. That book sounds amazing!

I've been trying to get back into cooking for/with friends. I'm a indie jewish horror/SF writer just getting her legs, as it were, so nights cooking are one of the few times I feel secure, I guess, lately.

 
At 2:41 AM, Blogger ally_ez said...

Thank you thank you thank you Shauna for writing about The Soul of A New Cuisine and Samuelsson! The topic of food throughout Africa is incredibly close to my own soul, as it was actually while I was living in Ethiopia that I discovered I had celiac; I always knew there was something 'wrong' with my health here (the fatigue, rashes, seemingly inexplicable and searing pain after eating) but my doctor's solution to my problems continued to be "well if something makes you feel sick, then I guess you shouldn't eat it". He refused to do any tests.

I left for Ethiopia to teach in a rural primary school and instantly fell in love - with the people, the tearfully beautiful landscape, and of course, the food. While my two other Canadian co-workers were sparingly dipping their fingers onto their plates, I was inhaling our meals: doro wat, shiro and enkulal, all enjoyed on the tangy, slightly pungent, spongy bread called injera. I was shocked that I was eating this new 'bread' with such fervour and not getting ill from it. In fact, any health concern I had at home completely disappeared while I was there! I had energy, vigour and an absolute love for everything I was doing there (there is a little joke between my friends that I am the only one of our group who has travelled through Africa and not only NOT gotten ill, but gotten healthier because of it!) Just like your visit to the homeopath years ago, by the time I got home I just knew that it was celiac. Needless to say, the test results that I finally got, months later, indicated what I already knew.

So that is my long-winded way of saying 'thank you' for including this piece. Too often we look only at the negative of the continent and not how much beauty, like ubuntu, we have to learn from it. The entire experience has led me to Rome where I am now pursuing a masters degree in global food security, so we, as a community, can work harder to ensure that 'food security' does not simply mean 'food in belly' but rather, something along the lines of ubuntu. So, thank you Marcus Samuelsson and thank you Shauna!

Cheers.

 
At 4:03 AM, Blogger The Golden Papaya said...

My favorite when I lived in Africa were the many varieties of beans, fresh and dried, that our neighbors grew on the hillside near our home. Feijon pedra, bongolón...I don't remember the other names. I spent many hours sitting in the courtyard with the other women shelling, or watching them shell them.

 
At 4:10 AM, Anonymous Kristin said...

I have a friend who had his birthday dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant in Chicago a few times. I loved it because all the food was communal, which created a wonderful atmosphere around the table.

 
At 4:19 AM, Blogger CatherineMarie said...

Mmmm, Marcus Samuelsson is a dish! (I do wonder if he will come across these comments!)

I would love to cook more African food...in my early 20s I was a nanny for an African family, and they had me over for dinner...the food was incredible, and I've always wanted to learn how to cook it...

I'm trying to express ubuntu by having 'Orphans Holidays', inviting friends who don't have a place to go to come to my house for Thanksgiving or Christmas...

 
At 4:23 AM, Blogger Kathleen said...

Ooooh, injera. This cookbook would be worth it just for that. There aren't any Ethiopian (or any other kind of African) restaurants that I can find here in Hamburg, and going to Berlin for an Ethiopian food fix just isn't practical. Those fritters sound awesome as well.

 
At 4:27 AM, OpenID wanderluck said...

Ubuntu is not necessarily solely an African thought - just the spirit of community in an African tongue. My grandmother never turned away a stranger at the dinner table. There was always an extra place setting for the wayward guest and more than enough food for everyone to have seconds, or thirds, even.

You make this sound beautiful, as always, more beautiful than I had thought. I want to share that in my own home.

Kate

 
At 4:43 AM, Anonymous Sasa said...

Cool, I went to Morocco a few years back with some dear old friends and this year they are coming to keep me comp'ny for Chrimbo in my new home in Austria (I'm a Kiwi) so I've just been looking at a few websites with African recipes so we can relive old times but this book sounds lovely too, thanks for sharing. Also wanted to mention that I found your blog through a link (Smitten Kitchen or Tartelette maybe?) and have been really enjoying your enthusiasm and joie de vivre as I am at a bit of a difficult time in my life because I feel a bit isolated here, so thank you for that also.

 
At 4:46 AM, Blogger Engineer Baker said...

Ubuntu - sounds like there actually is a word for why I started my food blog. Huh, who'da thunk? Probably also a good descriptor for why my dad always dragged my sister and I into the kitchen for dinner prep - chopping and sauteing and all that. Lucky Little Bean, to have the same experience. I can tell you - I appreciate the *process* of making dinner 100x more because of my dad.

 
At 5:04 AM, Blogger Linda Nguyen said...

Beautiful post! I have to admit, I've never really had REAL African cuisine but now I am totally curious. My boyfriend is a naval officer and he is deploying to Africa (exact destination still undecided as of now) sometime next summer. His mission there is a civil affairs one - connect with the local community and provide humanitarian aide in order to establish good relations. And of course, as food enthusiasts, we believe that food is a great cultural connector. I'll definitely try to get my hands on this book so that I can make him African/African-inspired dishes. That way, when he goes to Africa next summer, he won't be completely at a loss in terms of their food culture. And he'll have that extra little something to help make those lasting connections that will hopefully make Africa and the world a more peaceful place. To "ubuntu".

 
At 5:20 AM, Blogger sk said...

ubuntu...what an amazing concept. This is just what I needed to hear this morning-- I've been struggling with "fitting in" in my community, and I think the problem may be in my own mindset and my own prejudices (for lack of a better word)and insecurities. Thanks for introducing this topic-- I'm going to think about it, and have already reserved this cookbook at my library.

It's interesting that people only cook one thing from most cookbooks! Makes me want to run home and pull down some of my more neglected cookbooks and have fun.

 
At 6:07 AM, Blogger Claire Mauksch said...

I had never heard the word ubuntu before, but it makes perfect sense to me.

I didn't really start reading cooking blogs, such as yours, until I began to cook this summer. I'm in college, and I spent the summer interning in Washington, D.C. Because housing is so expensive, some old friends of my Dad's offered to put me up in their basement for the summer. They refused to accept rent, money for food, or really any compensation for their incredibly generosity, saying that having another person in the house to eat dinner with each night was a gift in itself--but I still felt beholden.

So one Saturday morning, I woke up early, and decided to make some scones from Molly Wizenberg's cookbook. It was a total gamble; I had little experience baking without my Mom to answer my questions. But the scones were delicious. (Thanks, Molly!) And what was even better than the scones, was how much the family enjoyed them. Instead of feeling like the needy college student, I felt like I had made a small gesture that meant something...and that tasted good.

So for the rest of the summer, I tried to cook or bake several dishes a week. They hadn't had tofu; I made my favorite Lemon-Rosemary marinade. The father loved barbecue sauce, so I tried out a new recipe. And on, and on...until the end of the summer came, and I went home...and kept cooking.

Basically, I'm just discovering how happy food can make the people you care about. It's amazing! And I want to keep learning and exploring new styles, which is why Marcus Samuelsson's book sounds amazing. I would love to cook from it.

 
At 6:19 AM, Blogger Adrienne said...

There is an Ethiopian restaurant here in Boston called Addis Red Sea. I had eaten there before, and eaten very well, but I went back a couple of months ago with a friend from Sudan, and he ordered injera made with teff flour instead of the white injera I had previously been served. I didn't know to ask for it, and I don't speak Arabic, but that teff injera made the meal. It was nutty and brown and spongier than the wheat version. I loved it.

 
At 6:32 AM, Blogger k-brow said...

I'd love a copy of that cookbook! Thanks for turning me on to a new chef! I lived in The Gambia, West Africa for 2 years, and love the spicy/tangy foods from that region. Millet was our daily grain. Yum.

 
At 6:32 AM, Blogger äiti said...

I'm posting about ubuntu to my FB today. Very inspiring. My favorite African dish is Butcha, which I get at my local Ethiopian restaurant. Simple, tasty, and quite soulful despite being a dish served cold.

 
At 6:50 AM, Blogger Lauren said...

That is absolutely beautiful, I hadn't heard of ubuntu before, but I doubt I will be soon forgetting it.

 
At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would appreciate a copy of Soul of a New Cuisine, I have checked it out from our local library several times and love cooking from it.

The recipe I use to make Injera with Teff (no wheat) is from Flatbreads & Flavors, A Bakers Atlas by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. The technique is different than in other recipes and works.

Thanks, Karen
britspit2AtyahooDotcom

 
At 7:03 AM, Blogger rita said...

You know what? I know nothing of African cuisine. My family of six, from ages 11 months- 39 years, is very open minded, (open mouthed?) about new foods. WE love to experiment and try new dishes.
Favorite ubuntu moments: whenever someone in our community welcomes a baby in, or finds themselves grieving over the loss of a loved one, or is just too sick to go out to buy groceries, you can bet, meals from many homes will be prepared and sent their way, with love and prayers for healing and peace.

 
At 7:11 AM, Anonymous beyond said...

looks like a really lovely book.
i don't know much about african cuisine except for north african tajine and couscous, which i love. we always have some harissa in the fridge, it's great with any kind of egg, or mixed with roasted vegetables. oh and once we ate at a great ethiopian restaurant in harlem, we had flatbread and lamb with unusual spices, it was delicious.

 
At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Summer said...

I really miss couscous. My son was begging me to make it again the other day because I haven't bought it since I went gluten free.

I got some and made it for him and he wasn't as thrilled as I thought. Maybe the fact that I wasn't eating it too took the excitement out of the experience.

 
At 7:26 AM, Anonymous pseudostoops said...

I'm inspired. I want to learn more about African cooking because I think I have a lot more to learn about cultures that do more with grains and vegetables and rely less on meat. Also: I'm trying to cut down on salt, so the idea of carefully-layered spices is VERY appealing.

 
At 7:39 AM, Blogger alana said...

Oh, such a beautiful post...
I love this term- I hope that we're moving more towards a sense of ubuntu in this country- I think that it is so necessary if we really want to move forward as a nation. Thanks so much.

 
At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Veronica said...

A friend of mine who was raised in Nigeria made the most wonderful chicken kebabs for my family and I. She moved away five years ago, but I still remember how good and comforting she and her cooking were. I wish I knew the name of the recipe, but I don't. I can tell you she broiled them, and they were very well seasoned with out being spicy. She served it with couscous (the first time I had it!) and a lovely tomato salad. It was fabulous.

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger Maggie said...

Ubuntu is something I strive for every day - nice to have a word besides to describe it to others besides "good ju-ju"!

Not sure I'll ever get to Africa, but it would be fun to play with it's cuisine - will have to search out this book.

 
At 7:58 AM, Blogger Bethany said...

I'd love to try cooking some African cuisine. But ubuntu is already a tradition at our house, in our community. Back in Alaska, when food was spendy, money was tight, and the food bank our savior, I marveled at how we always seemed to have enough food to give away to some who needed it. And now, in the land of cheap produce and a community of local farms, if you show up on my front porch, on my radar, in my life; you will be fed. And how!

 
At 8:11 AM, Anonymous kiss my spatula said...

lovely post - thank you for the introduction to such a beautiful book.

 
At 8:12 AM, Blogger Valorie said...

I grew up in a strictly Irish, meat-and-potatoes family. The only spice we ever used was cinnamon, and only at the holidays. So I didn't encounter African cuisine until I moved to LA, just a stones throw from Little Ethiopia. Here they make injera the traditional way, so this gluten-free girl can soak up tangy lentils and pumpkin wot with that deliciously sour sponge bread. And the pumpkin wot is definitely my favorite.

 
At 8:16 AM, OpenID gfpumpkins said...

Despite living in the DC area for 11 years, I didn't experience Ethiopian food until moving to Madison WI. Oh my! Tasty! And when friends and I tried a local African place in the dead of winter last winter, oh how filling and hearty that lamb stew was. I'd love to learn how to cook this way!

 
At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I were volunteers in the rain forest in South America, and oddly enough for us, we ended up living with the Maroon peoples. The ancestors of our neighbors literally fought and escaped to their 'freedom' in the jungles of Suriname (ex-Dutch Guiana) after being taken from their homeland of Africa and made to work on plantations. One of just a handful of successful slave revolts, the Maroon people (as they are called in English) still live peacefully there. And so we had African-influenced food daily, but totally re-adapted for a new continent and new time. I think my favorite food was called "mungo" and it consisted of a banana leaf filled with freshly pounded peanuts and coconut, and now of course, my memory is failing me for the last ingredient. I think my favorite sense of living though that I learned from these amazing people, was a sense of preserving, sharing, and smart waste. If any food was dropped on the ground, an immediate, "fu den gaansama," for our ancestors, was spoken. Purely a safety measure in our minds at first, this lack of upset of dropping food avoided the idea of 'waste', and added a sense of connection to our past constantly. And it shared with all of the millions of insects and animals that lived there too, allowing them to join in the movement of life. Thanks for sharing this wonderful book. I've got to go click on the link now and take a better look. And, thanks for a wonderful blog.
jeanine_at_yahoo_dot_com

 
At 8:37 AM, Blogger lollya said...

What a nice post.

The first African meal I ever made and tried was an African Peanut Soup. I was taken aback by how different the combined tastes were. I fell in love. I'm hoping to pick up this book to try some more. And those squash fritters look amazing. I love garam masala.

Thanks Shauna

 
At 8:38 AM, Blogger Sue said...

I love making and eating bobotie, and also have been exploring Moroccan recipes - chicken with preserved lemons and green olives is scrumptious!

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger Nancy said...

I have mouthwatering memories few years of weekly meals at a Gambian hole in the wall in west Texas. Maffe (beef stew with peanut butter and tomato sauce) was always good for what ailed me. There was gorgeous fish stew with fluffy dumplings and lemony roasted chicken. All served with wicked hot sauce and tangy spinach.

 
At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Catherine said...

I spent six weeks in Kenya as an apprentice at a glass studio a few years ago, before I discovered my food allergies. On my first day during the tea break all the other workers bought me maandazis. I had never tasted one before and I was amazed at how delicious they are. The combination of a maandazi with sweet chai was enchanting. I was incredibly moved by the amount of love and welcoming I felt through the simple act of the other workers buying maandazis. The beauty of Africa to me is that despite vast poverty in areas people always have love to share.

 
At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Kelly said...

I just read this today,and then later I read about how some software that is named ubuntu too. Strange.

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger Palmer Public Library said...

I've had African food only a few times - not much opportunity living in Alaska - but I really liked it each time. Would love to have the cookbook! In fact, I'm requesting that our library buy a copy.

 
At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Shannon said...

I went to an Ethiopian restaurant with my dad when he came to visit a few months ago. Ever since I have been trying to recreate the spiced lentils that we had there. So good!

My brother did 2 tours in Iraq and one in Africa so we can now share conversations about the cuisine in Africa and it makes me feel connected to him and his time over there in a way we've never had before.

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Cathi said...

this post is why I come here....i feel so blessed to be able to read your wonderful words on the simplest of subjects....definitely will find this cookbook and make a few of the recipes...they sound fabulous! And your child already has Ubuntu in her heart as she has two wonderful parents who expose her to the best life has to offer...:)

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Eve said...

Enjoyed hearing you on NPR this morning-its always interesting to hear people talk about what they are passionate about!

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger Dr. Jean Layton said...

Amazing, you capture the essence of each experience. I feel like I get to be there too.
Can't wait to try the fritters, happen to have lots of squash and apples in the house.
My favorite food is injera as well. I ate a lot of it going to school since it was an easy meal in Harlem. there is a woman at the Farmers market here from Ethiopia. I'm trying to convince her to make it from teff alone. Maybe soon.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I remember watching Marcus as a judge on last season's Food Network Star and his comment about the dish being "an insult to all of Italy." I'd love to cook from this book - it would remind me of my trip to Africa in 1996 to visit my sister who was in the Peace Corps. I try and practice ubuntu by welcoming people into the gluten free life... it is so overwhelming at the start and to share a dish of food is the best start.

 
At 12:11 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

I love ally_ez's story... give her the book! (Of course I'd love the book, too.) I was invited to speak in Ethiopia last year. I really wanted to go, but with my "last name" problems, having been put on the "no-fly list" I was advised not to attempt that trip solo.

The next time, I will not be afraid. A few consonants and vowels can't keep me from tasting the beauty of life, right? No matter, you have made me want to seek out the real Soul food...

BTW, I have made African squash soup at Thanksgiving every year. The secret ingredient is the peanut oil...

 
At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Ana said...

Oh, I'd LOVE to get this book! I've been wanting to learn about African cuisine since the time we went to an Ethiopian restaurant, but have had a hard time figuring my way in the kitchen with this. Thanks for highlighting this book, its going on my wishlist!!

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Kerrie said...

Thank you for a wonderful post (when I read your blog, I imagine your voice soft and soothing) and for bringing the concept of ubuntu into my little corner of the world. I express ubuntu from time to time like making meals for new moms or bringing co-workers baked goods. I would love to be more self-aware and provide the message ubuntu through food in many more subtle ways every day.

 
At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) said...

Wow, I will have to look for that cookbook - It seems like it goes way beyond just cooking. I can't stop thinking about the chicken with spiced butter.....hmmmm.

 
At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Lorraine said...

ubuntu- i think this is my favorite new word. You know who first comes to mind, our dear friend Viv. How she in the past few months, countless times has opened her home to us, with such generosity, bringing memebers of our Seattle community together.

These recipes sound incredible. I have yet to cook or eat African food. Must fix that immediately.

 
At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to learn to cook some food from africa---I have leared chinese, indian, and german...I have not learned african yet, that would be really cool.
julie

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger lntpita said...

I would love this book and be able to learn a new style of cooking, I have never seen an african cookbok before

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger sweetpea said...

Biting in to these squash apple fritters as I write. They are really good. I could not find kabocha so I used buttercup instead. The produce manager at two different grocery stores said kabocha is a summer squash ? ? ? Your right, they are savory which was a huge surprise given the cinnamon sugar dusting. I expected more of a desert but they would pair really well with pork. Gotta go fry a few more. Thanks for the recipe.

 
At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this post...my goal for my boys is so similar. To learn the foods from all the fields in our world, our community and to thank God for his provision. I have so many friends who have spent time in Africa, mostly giving back to those with less, and I'd love to make them a meal that invokes flavors and smells from their worlds.

Thanks - jennmckim at hotmail dot com

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger Artemis said...

Oh yum... I love berbere so much, I use it regularly to make a berbere-spiced chickpea stew. I'd also love to make injera... what a beautiful looking book!!

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger Christine said...

I can't remember the names of the dishes I ate, but I really enjoyed eating at an Ethiopian restaurant a few years ago. The way you eat Ethiopian food captures ubuntu so perfectly, doesn't it?

 
At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Debbie said...

I have to say I have never tried to cook African food, although I've eaten it many times at the homes of friends (Moroccan) or in restaurants (Ethiopian).

What has always impressed me about African cuisine is how friendly and welcoming African people are about food. There's an Ethiopian restaurant in my town run by a small Ethiopian family. When I (or anyone, really) walk in the front door, I am greeted with warmth and sincere happiness like a dear friend of the family. You can feel the love in every bite of the food. When the restaurant is not busy, the chef will come out of the kitchen and visit at the tables; it reminds me of holiday dinners from when I was little. My heart smiles right now just thinking about it.

I dream of traveling to Africa someday, to see the country and to marvel in their amazing cuisine. Meanwhile I'm going to head to the library and look for Samuelson's book.

 
At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Vivian Th said...

Indeed, "ubuntu". I'm sure there is a word for the same feeling in most languages. "Ohana" comes to mind. This "feeling" is manifest in the novels of Alexander McCall Smith set in Botswana (The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency). I love adventurous cuisine and would welcome a new cookbook for exploration.

 
At 5:10 PM, Blogger Tiffany said...

African Curry. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com way back when I was in university and not as obsessed with food as I am now. I don't know if it's authentic, but it was called African curry and called for tomatoes, curry and coconut milk, among other things. It was delicious. I now make it for most potluck events that I go to. It would be fantastic to find more recipes to learn about.

Also, the squash apple fritters look amazing. I'm going to have to try them soon :)

 
At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Julialuli said...

When I was in high school in a small Minnesota town, my parents decided to sponsor a student from Nigeria who went to the local state college. One of the first times I met him, he came to our house and took over my mother's kitchen. We watched him put together ingredients, knowing we would have to eat his food! He shocked us by chewing on peppercorns as he cooked. But I will *never* forget that meal. I can't tell you what was in that food. But I remember scooping up a stew-like dish with our hands as we held this soft dough-like substance. Eating with our hands! That alone was enough to make us giddy. But I remember that moment, sharing his meal around our midwestern table. He brought his world to us in that food. Ubuntu.

To this day my parents occassionally see David and his lovely wife and seventeen children! Maybe I should take a trip to North Carolina and ask for that recipe.

 
At 8:20 PM, Blogger delicious said...

I can't wait to make those! they sound tasty.

my favorite part of african cuisine was sitting with a group of friends and sharing a large dish that was eaten with our hands, tearing bits of the soft bread and eating whatever we found on it. delish!

 
At 8:22 PM, Blogger kelly said...

i cannot wait for your book, i am hoping to make more than 1 recipe!
you make me want to learn african cooking, it sounds like an experience. i have never had any kind of african food. is it hard to find the ingredients?

 
At 8:58 PM, Blogger emily said...

Wow... This post is powerful. Seriously. You can feel the warmth and strength and true belief you hold as a cook of the strength of food, and ubuntu.

Marcus Samuelsson is one chef I don't know enough about. I know he's hot (yes!) and I know of him, but I've never looked into his cookbooks. I would love to own this book!

The only truly African cuisine I've tried is Ethiopian and I can't pinpoint what we ate. But the feeling, of a bunch of friends and I around this huge, gigantic tray of (vegetarian) dishes, eating with the slightly odd, squishy bread instead of any utensils was and is a feeling that I love. It truly does speak the feeling of ubuntu, even in a generic restaurant near my old university!

 
At 9:45 PM, Blogger Kenna M. Kettrick said...

The African food I am familiar with is food from Ethiopia--Ethiopian was the first food I really remember eating in restaurants with my parents, and it's still a staple that we try to find when we go out for dinner (which is fairly rare, actually). Our favorite local Ethiopian restaurant closed a while ago, but we are slowly & surely on the hunt for new ones. My mom (who is wheat-free) loves injera (as do I), though not so much the really spicy foods (which I do love!). What I find really fabulous about eating together at an Ethiopian restaurant is how we get a huge plate piled with injera & so many different amazing dishes, and we can each get our own favorite and then share in everyone else's.
Also, it's just really, really tasty.
So I would love to learn how to cook Ethiopian especially but African more widely, so that I can have it in my home & not just in restaurants. Mmmm, so tasty!

-kenna

 
At 11:13 PM, Blogger Mindy said...

Interesting use of squash. I'll have to substitute a different type of squash though as the varieties available here are limited. I'm sure pretty much anything will work.

 
At 12:49 AM, Anonymous Jess said...

This post is exciting because my husband has always told me about an african restaurant experience he had as a child and it sounds like this cookbook could help us share that!

 
At 2:28 AM, Blogger Lowa said...

Oh. Sweet. Lord. I don't know that a post about a cookbook has ever resonated with me in this way. So powerful and so immediate. Into my library queue it goes, immediately!

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Yum. I don't know enough about spices. I want to make delicious food without all the fat and oils and cheeses (though I love these too). Thank you for the suggestion.

 
At 8:41 AM, Blogger alice said...

See, I saw Ubuntu, and thought "Hey! I never knew where the inux Ubuntu name came from!" It's a great word, and deeply amusing to me that my fleuncy is so centered on geekdom rather than on spoken languages.

I'm working to get past the societal messages of 'your ome must be perfect! You must offer all types of food, prepared perfectly! To be a hostess, you must offer the ultimate experience of eating, sitting and talking!' Thankfully, my neuroses aren't *that* bad, but gowing up in a very introverted home, learning how to host is an ongoing process, and one that I'm starting to see as a practice, rather than as something that I'll learn once and be finished with.

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Janel said...

I've loved every type of African cuisine I've been fortunate enough to taste - Ethiopia, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and Ghana being the countries which spring to mind with favorite dishes.

I can't wait to get Marcus Samuelsson's book & hopefully add a little more ubuntu to the world.

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Mmmmmmmmm. Can't wait to try those fritters!

My project this week, in the Great Kitchen Deglutenization - which takes longer than you think it will, no? - is the spice rack. Who knew?

I wonder if you could comment on where you buy spices - do you know any good internet sources? I see recipes calling for 'gluten free' spices, but don't know how to tell if my cinnamon is truly gluten free (does this fall into the category of vegan sugar - regular sugar is bleached with bone meal, so it's not vegan, etc. etc.)

Love the pictures (especially of the spices, they look so rich!) and thanks for the continued inspiration!!

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger madeleine said...

The best part of African cuisine, if you asked me: the way an entire meal is threaded through with layers of spices and textures, the way it seems to open and get vaster as each dish come to the table.

The happy sighs and jokes that abound from sharing a communal meal are almost better than the soothing and unexpected flavor combinations found on the plate. I say almost because I was introduced to bisteeya and know wonder how I'd live without this North African dish in my life.

Thank you for talking about this book.

 
At 12:45 PM, OpenID bruleeblog said...

The best African dish I've had so far was a Ghanaian Peanut Butter Soup cooked with catfish and crab. Delicious, and very different from anything I've had before.

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger Tracee said...

So that's what its called. Ubuntu. I have been doing that for a long time, often with very little, but there always seemed to be enough for everyone( most americans eat too much anyway:))I do hope I win, but if not, its off to the library I go, and see if they can get this book for me.

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger One Love Photo said...

I am so happy to have found your lovely site! Your "about"is an amazing beautiful story. In particular the love part! I am pleased to hear that this isn't just a recipe site but much more....

 
At 1:36 PM, Blogger I Love to Do Dishes said...

Ubuntu...sounds like what New Yorkers learn when they go to the Union Square farmer's market for the first time.

It's realizing that someone else drove your food to you, that someone else harvested it and packed it in the truck and someone else cared for the earth and it's inhabitants enough to help that food grow. As cooks, it's the least we can do to prepare it for others to enjoy.

In our communities it manifests in coop shares and CSAs - and we're thankful for our community even when we receive 50 ears of corn from our farmer in one week...

Further, it's realizing that we have all those people to thank and remember while we enjoy it. And remembering that we have a job and responsibility in this whole matrix - no more and no less important than the others.

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Jessica said...

Great post. I'm so glad you introduced me to this book!

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger michele said...

i loved this post. as a person without television (& cable TV) and for whatever other reasons I am probably the only person here who isn't familiar with Marcus Samuelsson! i can't wait to read this book and try out some of the recipes.

a cookbook that i HAVE used time and time again now for over 15 years is Sundays at Moosewood-divided up into regions, i have cooked from the Africa section most. The West Aftican Peanut soup is not to be missed!

those tiny fingers reaching into the picture frames are adorable!

 
At 2:53 PM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

Thank you for this post - this cookbook has been on my Amazon wishlist for a long time, and even if I don't win the free copy, it will be the next book that I order. We're very spoiled as we live in a neighborhood with strong African and Carribbean roots, so we have incredible African and Afro-Carribbean restaurants nearby, and we know we already love the flavors. Thanks for inspiring me to make some of these flavors in my own kitchen. And the fritters look incredible!

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger Ellemay said...

Of the African food I have had so far I would happily eat all of it again. the only cookbook I have at the moment that contains anything African is a curry book that has a few African curries in it. Most are from Asia. I would love to try other aspects of their cuisine.

Thank you so much for providing another way to spend my pay check.

Unless... *snatches book from counter top and starts to run*

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger mallory said...

Wow, that looks like a great book. I was surprised by the cookbook statistic - I don't always cook lots of recipes from cookbooks I own, but I am 100% sure that I've opened every one more than 5 times, just to read and page through. My favorite food from African cuisine? Definitely Injera, I really enjoy Ethiopian food.

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger sweetpea said...

So good I bought the book today! Can't wait to try more African cuisine!

 
At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Kristen O'Sullivan said...

Hi Shauna,

Although your blog entry today was the first time I heard the word ubuntu, I knew exactly in my heart what it stood for, right away.

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease 9 months ago, I was desperate to go out with friends to eat a few weeks into the diet. My boyfriend and I found an Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto where we were living at the time. I called ahead to make sure they could make the injera with 100% teff flour, and they said yes. When we arrived at the restaurant, my boyfriend insisted that I double check with the chef before eating. It was then the waitress told us that he had not in fact received my message, and there was no injera that I could eat.

I was devastated - Ethiopian is my favourite African food, with its whimsical spices served over that chewy, slightly vinegary injera! I remember looking at my boyfriend with tears in my eyes. The waitress told me she could make me some plain chicken.

Although we were out with another couple I didn't know very well, my boyfriend immediately told us we needed to find somewhere else to eat where I could be included. Instead of staying quiet about the whole situation, he spoke up, and told us we were going to find some good sushi.

We hopped back in the car, and went down Bloor street to our favourite sushi spot, where I ate gluten-free and the others enjoyed a delicious meal also.

This is the meaning of ubuntu - enjoying being together in an environment where everyone is safe and happy. We are so lucky that we have a community to help us with this difficult task of eating gluten-free.

Kristen O'Sullivan

 
At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't say I'm familiar with the African cuisine. Any new cuisine is exciting to me.

Ubuntu, in my life, means that when I have more produce than I can consume, rather than keeping it until it spoils and throwing it out as I once did when younger and less aware of "community", I now donate the extras to those in need...at my apartment complex, to those on the street, to shelters, wherever.

(waterhythms@mac.com)

 
At 9:22 PM, Blogger coloring in my life said...

My husband is from West Africa and really when I started to eat dishes native to his country, it was eye opening. Really it is wonderful to see how fellowship and food is so tightly woven together in the African culture.
Wonderful post.

 
At 11:03 PM, Blogger Helen said...

I'm from Cape Town in South Africa, and I guess I'm quite familiar with our local dishes. I particularly love cape malay food such as the fritters you feature, and bototies, bredies, samoosas and rotis. Often these dishes include fruit (often raisins, apricots etc) which adds a delicious sweetness. Yum!
I'm rather embarrassed to admit I know very little about cuisine from the rest of the continent and I haven't seen this book before. I'd love to win a copy.

 
At 11:58 PM, Blogger Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

That book looks like something fun to cook from! I gave you an award btw :) http://www.chefspiration.com/2009/10/blog-love.html

 
At 2:21 AM, Blogger Shuku said...

I know it by another name, I suppose - 'ubuntu' in another language is still ubuntu no matter what. The Cantonese have a phrase, 'sik fook' - prosperity in eating, translated rather literally - and in a sense, that's what food is like here in my part of the world. Eating together is a joy and a blessing, and time to share life with each other. When I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, a lot of the joy of eating went away. It was hard. But when I finally started getting the hang of things, and realising that many of my other friends had similar dietary problems, I wanted to make food that they could enjoy too. As you've put it so beautifully, 'joy in the belly.' Until I moved back to SE Asia, my apartment was always open for guests and impromptu meals, and watching people being able to -eat- safely, that was even better. My little version of 'ubuntu' I guess, with my translation.

I had an Ethiopian roommate in college - she introduced me to lots of different foods from her region, and cooking African food has become a way to remember the good times when I was much younger.

Ubuntu - I think that's what all cooking is about, really. Community. And giving people joy.

 
At 2:38 AM, Blogger Nene said...

Thank you for your wonderful introduction to this bond. I am studying in Europe right now and I have also been struck by the sense of caring and responsibility for others that exists here. I don't know if it's anything like ubuntu, but the idea intrigues me - and, the recipes sound amazing! Would love to be able to take a look at this book. I too take such joy in cooking for and feeding friends, family, and loved ones... now I have a name for it. :)

 
At 6:46 AM, Blogger amy and ann said...

wow, what a dreamy cookbook! I would LOVE to win that. is it easy to convert to gf? I remember visiting africa once and eating on eof my most memorable meals ever at a huge harvest table in a magical venue of rich food and smiley faces! loved it. cous cous (ahhhh, how I miss that) and the gravy on the marinated beef! yum. So, I am curious how these recipes work with gf? I want to win! Oh, that woudl make my year. XO. amy

 
At 9:51 AM, Anonymous JennC said...

I have not cooked African cuisine often, although I use some of the same spices in my creative cooking adventures.

About 12 years ago I realized that several of my friends spent Thanksgiving alone due to physically or emotionally distant family. For us, Thanksgiving has never been about turkey, but about family and community. So out of this was born ubuntu for our family. We invited friends and family, and cooked and cooked, until every surface of the kitchen and tables were covered with food. Many friends brought food, several couldn't afford to, but we fed them all the same. People gathered and stacked thier plates with a variety of foods. After 2 years of this, we began shuttling friends and friends of friends to and from our home to be sure they all could partake in the bounty. The feeling of community and of breaking bread together was overwhelming.

I look forward to trying more African cuisine. Thanks for the great post!

 
At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Rosita said...

I am very familiar with the word ubuntu and also am hoping to teach that to my children. As for African food, I have not found any that I don't like. I love the spices in Etheopian food, the okra sauces from so many countries, the sorghum and peanut "porridge" from Chad that my mother in law makes, the tajines of Morocco... I could go on, but I am making myself too hungry :)

I can say that if I won this cook book, it is one I would use it for more than one recipe.

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger Jenny Nelson said...

how beautiful the number of people that want to receive a copy of this book!
me too. .

i love that you said so many were worthy of being stained (and i would add dog-eared). . . for so many reasons but that the spices and ubuntu throughout are the main reasons "soul of a new cuisine" to be at the top of the list. . .

i love the word. i love the way it sounds and the way when you say it, you feel as if you're wrapping your arms around the world and down in the very cockles of your heart. . . you feel a connection and a kinship and a sense of overwhelming love and generosity.

imagine if we all walked around whispering that word and getting that reaction. . . the ripples of ubuntu. . . i can feel it already.

i've had friends who grew up in africa. . . and i've had spices arrive in my mailbox in rough brown paper packages that transport me (even before i open the envelope) to far away lands that I can't wait to experience someday soon i hope.

i grew up with spices and the scents imprinted in my memory, winter stews warming on the woodstove all day long, and those exotic, spicy, mysterious darker scents that make me think of the sensual and adventurous spice route. . . trump the smell (although completely wonderful too) of summer herbs crushed between fingertips any day. . .
i'm a spice girl.

and how beautiful that slow food and lots of people gathered in the kitchen and around whatever table or sitting together on the floor, or in the cold winter air. . . wherever people come together. . . is such a growing re-trend currently. . . there was a period of time when some people forgot about welcoming everyone to their table and solitary-in-front-of-the-computer meals became de riguer.

But no more. . . i see a revolution with the people (like everyone here) that value food, the connections it creates and the bonds it strengthens. . . the way it affects more change than we can even really imagine or plan.

as a raw foodist for several years (in a desperate attempt to figure out what the heck was giving me health problems and lo and behold- gluten!!!!!) I'm completely enraptured and like an excited little kid to be re-entering the world of delectably cooked local, seasonal and perfectly simmered/spiced/nourishing food. . . stained and dog-eared copies of so many whole food cookbooks from jamie oliver, alice waters, your lovely recipes, erin mckenna, farmer john, sally fallon. . .
and i want marcus samuelsson to join that list. . . beautiful, poetic and spiced to perfection.

love and warmth. . . jenny

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger Dana said...

I love how Ethiopian food is not only served on a communal platter, but how you don't need silverware and you get to eat lovely bites of all sorts of things; sort of a community of foods right on your plate. I'm too sleepy to articulate it well. :) I haven't found a restaurant yet (in DC) where i can get gluten-free injera so I miss it sadly.

 
At 1:33 PM, Blogger Tasty Eats At Home said...

I would love to explore African cuisine a bit more. There are precious few Ethiopian restaurants around, and none of which I am aware of provide "real" (gluten-free) injera. I have yet to make it either...but so want to, and so want to experience the entire Ethiopian communal eating experience. Ubuntu is such a wonderful concept. I should keep it in my heart!

 
At 5:49 PM, Blogger Dave and Heidi said...

Wow! This book looks great. i have become more interested in all things Ethiopian since good friends were just approved for adoption of a little boy from Ethiopia. I have only eaten Ethiopian once but will definitely have to put this on my library hold list and check it out. Thanks so much for the review and recommendation.

 
At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Nan said...

Thank you for the marvelous fritter recipe -- I am so interested in Marcus Samuelsson's book, somehow I've missed that one.
I'm most familiar with North African foods. My favorite 'fancy' dish is Moroccan bestilla, but made with chicken, not pigeon (yikes -- sorry -- just can't). I also love Ethiopian food, but haven't tried cooking it yet.

 
At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Vivian said...

What a wonderful book! I would surely love to have a copy to delve into and experiment with a totally new cuisine.

 
At 8:36 PM, Blogger Roberta Taylor said...

Wow- what a beautiful post, and a great introduction to your blog, which I've only just discovered. I wish that we knew more African cuisine, but sadly my remote northern community has few resources. I'll have to look for 'Soul of a New Cuisine' at the local library now and bring some new flavours home.

 
At 6:15 AM, Anonymous The Diary of an Epic Failure said...

Shauna, I am totally overwhelmed by your post. Only you would think to ask that beautiful question to Marcus Samuelsson and it is so indicative of the careful grace that you bring to your food. I think it would be wonderful if more people remembered that preparing and eating food is sometimes more about community than ingredients. I would rather eat cornflakes with people I love than eat filet mignon alone...

Oh and yes, he IS lovely looking, isn't he?

 
At 6:57 AM, Anonymous Molly said...

Ah, I'd almost forgotten this lovely tome! But the spiced butter, THAT I remember. Thanks for the reminder -- probably time to add it to my permanent collection.

Molly
http://www.remedialeating.com

 
At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Adrienne said...

This sentence really struck me: In Africa you are surrounded by people everywhere you go, and the spirit of community is embracing, even in the most impoverished areas. Perhaps it really hit home after watching Radiant City last night, which is about the insularity and soulessness (is that a word?) that can exist in suburbia. I love the idea of ubuntu. Thanks for introducing me to it and to this wonderful book.

 
At 8:52 AM, Blogger Auntie Mindy said...

In Nuweiba, Egypt in a small, small restaurant run by Sudanese, I had the most delicious bowl of simply made lentil soup that to this day I dream about and wish I could replicate. Only I think it were the company of the shop owners and others wherein we communally sat at that table ripping pieces of bread into our tangy, lentil soup. There was love in that room - it was tangible - it was perhaps that ubuntu Samuelsson talks about. I will never forget that experience. Egypt is vivid with love.

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger Yujai said...

Wow, this book sounds very interesting. It's nice to know a new perspective about Africa!

 
At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Ruth said...

Making injera purely from teff is very difficult - it's very unpredictable - that's why it's almost impossible to find a recipe that will work every time. Also, the teff used in Ethiopia has a rougher texture than the commercially available, American produced teff flour. Mixing teff flour with medium ground cornmeal can produce injera that is more authentically textured.

I'm Ethiopian and a coeliac (a rare statistic)! It warms my heart to read of others enjoying Ethiopian food! By the way, fellow coeliacs, most Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants offer rice as well as injera. Best of luck in all of your Ethiopian food endeavors!

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger City Girl said...

I would love to learn more about African cooking. The only cuisine I am familiar with is Ethiopian food because of living in Washington, DC, but would love to learn more and also cook it at home rather than eat it out :)

 
At 8:39 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Oh, the spices I never knew existed! I have so much to learn about African cuisine and it's spices. You had me salivating for the roasted chicken thighs coated in berbere and spiced butter. Now that my not-so-little one is a year old and can experiment with more types of food, I want to make sure new tastes are always mixed in with the weekly comfort food. And who knows, maybe something from this book will become our usual go-to comfort food recipe. Thanks for sharing Shauna!

 
At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Kimberly said...

Twenty years ago, I spent most of a year living in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., living in a building that was home to many staffers from African embassies. The apartment kitchens had doors into the corridors, and people often kept their kitchen doors ajar while they cooked, to provide cross-ventilation. Walking through the building near dinnertime was intoxicating; I wish I'd been able to taste the food that produced the aromas wafting into the corridors.

We ate Ethiopian food at least once a week, as we were just blocks from several restaurants. A platter of doro wat and vegetables on tangy injera is one of my all-time favorite meals.

And you've really piqued my curiosity with this sentence: "The spice mixes are especially important in cooking from this book, because cooks in Africa don't rely on salt and pepper, the way we do here..." The idea of a cuisine that doesn't rely on salt for flavor is, as you know, really appealing to me.

 
At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

My mother quite firmly believes that if you find 1 recipe in a given cookbook that you're going to make again and again then it was worth it.

Now, I can see where you're coming from as someone who toiled over an entire book worth of the things but I find that far from a limiting feature it frees me to buy and read more cookbooks than I would without it as a guiding principle.

I have cookbooks that I come back to for that -one- recipe that I might not have in my collection otherwise.

 
At 8:53 AM, Anonymous lisaz said...

I'm so excited to hear about this book! My husband and I are about to go on our honeymoon and we are taking a long saved-up-for trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar. One of the things I have been concerned about is the food - because I am afraid we are going to be fed "for Westerners" instead of getting to try all of the traditional foods! I knew that being gluten free would probably not be an issue if we stuck to tradition! I'm going to have fun doing a little more research for my trip so I can help our chef....As for ubuntu - my friends and I are all freelancers - it's a scary time for us when the phone doesn't ring for weeks at a time. One of my girlfriends and I have taken to cooking a meal together - and then inviting certain friends who aren't working that day. It was never meant as charity - only as a way to boost our spirits and to help us to "have a life" outside of work in way that was affordable with little income. Not only have the meals been incredible, my friendships with those people has deepened in a way it probably never would have if we'd only remained "work friends". It's been the greatest gift and anti-depressant I've found yet.

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger Arien said...

I, too, am only really familiar with North African and Ethiopian cuisines, but I love those, and lately I've been intrigued by other parts of Africa.

I think my family tries to practice ubuntu--if you can "practice" it--although obviously it's a process. But still, people know that they're always welcome at our table. And now that I'm at college, I'm enjoying sharing the stuff I bake with others.

Also, there's a restaurant in Napa called Ubuntu. It's gotten rave reviews.

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger Erin said...

I've never been a very good citizen. It took me a long time to begin to recycle, to conserve, to listen to what was going on in my community, to pay attention. Now I am getting better at those things, and the primary way that I try to engage with the world in a conscious, mutually beneficial way is through cooking and eating. In food, I have a way to learn from and learn about my community. I can benefit myself and it by buying the things our farms are growing. I benefit my son and husband and friends by cooking and sharing those foods with them. I appreciate and *see* the world around me now in a totally new way. I didn't know there was a word for it, but I am glad to know "ubuntu" today.

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger Lila said...

I'm not sure if you're still giving away that wonderful looking cookbook,but if you are,I would love a copy! I recently spent 4 months in South Africa, living with families and learning Xhosa, the language that the word 'ubuntu' comes from! It is a beautiful language and Ubuntu described my time there. Sadly I discovered that I had Celiac while I was in South Africa so I had a hard time eating any of the wonderful food my 4 host families made for me,but I would love the chance to make some of the dishes they loved and to learn about other dishes from the rest of the continent. Each of my host families,who each came from a different language/socio-economic group, loved to share their food. You cannot go in to a house in South Africa without being offered food. I would sit with my host mom for hours talking about food and I've never seen her face light up more than when I asked for her recipes. 'I am because you are' is a concept that is lived every day in South Africa and,like you,I am trying to bring it back in to my life. I am trying to learn as much as I can from every person I meet and to really understand their story and what makes them tick. And what better way to do that then food?! I think there is no better feeling than to have people over and share a meal with them. Although I have 2 recipes from my time in South Africa, I would love having this book that I've heard so many rave about to be able to share my love of cooking with others!

Lila
portlandceliac.blogspot.com

 
At 2:01 AM, Blogger Dia said...

I also just found your blog (via Gluten-free Gourmand) - how delightful! & to read about Samuelsson & his book - mmm

I had to chuckle at 'Ubuntu' - my computer runs Lenix, & the operating system is Ubuntu - as the software is 'free-ware' (very geeky - & I'm NOT - but it was, appropriatly, a gift from a Geeky friend!)
I'm reading a friend's first novel, set in the Scottish highlands at the Spring equinox @ the time of the 'removals' - she sets the table & describes the food & the hospitality - tribal/clan 'ubuntu' seems very similar, around the world!

I love teff & quinoa & other gf seeds - lived at Breitenbush in the early to mid-90s, & was pleased on my last visit this fall, that they've shifted from 'wheat free' special diet to offering 'gluten free!'
My dau had the bloodwork done for her little family this summer, & all tested positive for several of the genes - she 'got' the gene from 'both sides,' so I decided to join her in the gluten free venture - & feel it's a good choice! challanging, at times ;)

Have been making squash smoothies this fall, & was just given several LARGE squash - I do most of my cooking with coconut oil, & will experiment with sauteing the spices first! I also enjoy the richness of herbs & spices, & just picked up several of the sweet spice mixes that would be perfect for this.

I look forward to future visits with you & the chef! THanks for all you share!

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Bossy Chef said...

My favorite African food is Ethiopian. My husband is from Montreal, Quebec and they had the most amazing restaurant in the basement of a house on Monkland, Ave. The restaurant has since been closed, and we have since moved to the Mid-west, therefore, there is NO Etiopian here so I have taught myself to make it.

My favorite is Doro Wat (chicken and eggs for anyone who doesn't know). I make the clarified butter and berbere fresh the morning before I cook the dishes, once you have those two the rest of the dishes are so easy to put together and cook with love. The thing I have yet to conquer is gluten-free injeri, but I have imported tons of Teff so one day I will succeed! :) I will have to check this book and see if they have one. My cookbook section is quickly growing now that I read your blog. My latest love is the Flavor Bible.... thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart and stomach. :) (PS... I promise to cook more than 5 recipes from your new cookbook when it comes out, I am eagerly awaiting the duck ravioli).

 
At 7:54 AM, Blogger seth said...

Anytime I visit your blog, I leave hungry.

Ubuntu is what I love about food. My wife and I traveled to Kenya with some close friends to a small city in the North. We went out into a village to help distribute parasite medication to children. One of the fathers took us on a long, rambling walk around the village. We stopped at a few houses and were always invited in, and offered food and drink. Sitting in a small, one room, mud home, sharing mandazi (kenyan donuts) and warm soda, coming from vastly different cultures and speaking few words of the same language, we felt welcomed and comfortable sharing food and fellowship.

 

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