Culinary anthropologist Vertamae Grosvenor traveled to Haiti, the Bahamas, and Mexico to tape segments of her television series and to get firsthand experience with real local cooking from real family cooks. In this book she serves up a collection of recipes from all the cultures that make up the Americas, including the Gullah culture of the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia, the Island cultures of the Caribbean, and the Creole culture of New Orleans. Organized by course -- soups, salads, side dishes, entrees, breads, and desserts -- here are traditional favorites like Red Beans and Rice as well as exotic dishes like Cuban Whole Roast Pig and African Sweet-Potato Stew.
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Subtitled More Recipes from the Americas' Family Kitchen, Vertamae Grosvenor's Vertamae Cooks Again is a companion cookbook to the author's public television show of the same name. It's an exploration, if you will, of pan-American comfort food.
"You can grow up," Grosvenor relates, "leave your home, travel far, change your walk, your talk, your name, but you--your people, your roots--will always be known by the language you cry in. That's the language of home.... I think that the natural truth is: That home language is about food." This, then, is a book of home food from all over the Americas, a lot of it old and traditional, some of it new, a mixing of cultural influences. To a traditional black-eyed pea soup from Nassau, for example, there's the addition of potato gnocchi. The original soup Grosvenor tasted featured dumplings. The gnocchi, like the coconut milk in the recipe, are her own additions. And such is the freewheeling style of this book, touching down here and there for a taste of this and that, all of it a rich mix redolent of someone's home cooking somewhere.
Vertamae Cooks Again is divided into soups, salads, side dishes and breads, entrees, and desserts and beverages. Recipes include the likes of Carolina Minestrone (rice instead of pasta), Afro-Mexican Radish Salad, Grilled Tuna and Vegetable Salad, Haitian Red Beans and Rice, Corn on the Cob with Chili Butter, Baked Jerked Chicken, Roast Chicken with Banana Stuffing, Pozole, Griot, Vegetable Pot Pies with Mashed Potato Crust, Applesauce Cake, and Tres Leche (Three Milk Cake).
Hit the road with Vertamae and you may find yourself traveling back home to the foods that feel good. --Schuyler Ingle
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