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Book Review

Book Reviews

3/31/2021

By Toni Tipton-Martin
Hardcover: $35
Published by Clarkson Potter
2019
320 pages

‘Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking’

African-American influence is felt but rarely seen in so many aspects of modern American life, and nowhere is this more evident than in the cuisine we cherish as quintessentially American. In a gorgeous, fascinating and utterly delicious new book, Toni Tipton-Martin presents a showstopper that is part history book, part love letter to the roots of African American cooking. The author brings together the often surprising stories of classics recipes and ensures the recipes themselves translate seamlessly to modern cooking.

There are plenty of recognizable dishes (biscuits, lemon meringue pie, chicken pot pie) and a horde of more unusual, interesting recipes worth reviving (spoon bread, plantain chips, pickled shrimp). The details and anecdotes Tipton-Martin writes for each section reveal a whole world of culinary history and startling connections that have been sorely missed from modern cooking literature.

Together with the interesting and richly flavored recipes are some truly stunning pictures. The bread pudding on page 296 stopped me in my tracks. That alone was enough to add it to my already overburdened cookbook shelf. ♦ — Reviewed by Julie Goodrich

 

Prep Iowa

By Alix E. Harrow
Hardcover: $25
Published by Redhook
2020
528 pages

‘The Once and Future Witches’

Alix Harrow writes with such an ethereal yet firmly grounded beauty that sometimes I think she must be from another plane of existence. I’m officially becoming a massive fan of every word she writes, and “The Once and Future Witches” positively drips with the addictive literary magic I’ve come to crave from her books.

The year is 1893, and three sisters — Juniper, Bella and Agnes — find each other after seven bitter years apart. The tattered remains of their relationship is about to be tested in ways they can’t imagine as politics, magic and progress combine into a violent storm around them. Women’s suffrage becomes about more than the vote as they struggle for equality not just as women but as witches. Powers — both overt and covert — will fight them at every turn with none more insidious than the tangled past they are all trying to run from.

A beautiful, haunting and ultimately redemptive story of family, history and the power hiding deep within humanity makes this one of my favorite stories of the year. The lyrical quality of Alix Harrow’s writing may just be the new addiction you’re looking for. ♦ — Reviewed by Julie Goodrich

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