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Book Review,  Food,  Foodies Read,  Reading

The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food

The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American FoodThe Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook by Marcus Samuelsson, Angie Mosier
on October 27, 2020
Pages: 336
Genres: Cooking
Published by Voracious
Format: eBook
Source: Library

In The Rise, chef, author, and television star Marcus Samuelsson gathers together an unforgettable feast of food, culture, and history to highlight the diverse deliciousness of Black cooking today. Driven by a desire to fight against bias, reclaim Black culinary traditions, and energize a new generation of cooks, Marcus shares his own journey alongside 150 recipes in honor of dozens of top chefs, writers, and activists—with stories exploring their creativity and influence.   Black cooking has always been more than “soul food,” with flavors tracing to the African continent, to the Caribbean, all over the United States, and beyond.

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I jumped at the chance to get this book from my library. I’ve been interested in books by Marcus Samuelsson since I read his memoir, Yes, Chef. (If you aren’t familiar with his story, he was born in Kenya and adopted by a Swedish family. He became a chef and now lives in the United States.)

This is more than just a cookbook. It is the story of many Black chefs. Each person has their story told over a few pages with wonderful photographs and then lists 2 or 3 recipes of theirs. This makes the format of this book a bit different than other cookbooks. The recipes aren’t arranged by topics.

There is a recipe guide that lists the dishes by main ingredient or course so you can find what you are looking for. These aren’t recipes that I think will be made routinely by home cooks. Many of them have preparation and cook times of several hours or the recipe refers you to other recipes that need to be made before you can assemble the dish you picked.

These chefs do introduce some ingredients that I wasn’t familiar with. It would require ordering in these ingredients if I wanted to make these recipes because they aren’t available at my local stores. Sea moss smoothies, anyone? I found myself doing more googling of ingredients than I usually have to do. It like the innovation but probably won’t be making those dishes.

The recipes here are overwhelmingly meat-based. Even the recipes in the guide under Grains or Vegetables are heavily into meat. I did find one recipe that I wanted to try. It is a Couscous Salad with Roasted Figs.

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Even this recipe has three sub-recipes as written. It is recommended to make a fresh Ethiopian cheese, a spiced butter, and a carmelized honey vinaigrette. I skipped the cheese. The butter recipe added an additional spice to another spiced butter recipe that already had 11 ingredients. It makes a pound. I needed a tablespoon. I did some melted butter with dashes of whatever of the listed spices I had close. I’m sure the original recipe is amazing but it added a whole other layer of complicated on top of this “simple” salad.

I’m not even sure that the extra steps helped a lot. Maybe I just have really simple tastes but I think this would have been just as good with fresh figs and nuts instead.

The people whose stories are told in this book are fascinating. I would pick up this book in order to learn about them and to learn about some ingredients that you may not be familiar with but I don’t think this will be a cookbook that many people will use regularly.

3 Comments

  • wendyklik

    I read Yes Chef and all it did was piss me off and make me believe that Samuellson is a selfish, ungrateful, and unlikeable individual.

  • Mae Sander

    “Yes, Chef” was an interesting book, though there were aspects of Samuelsson’s private life that I found problematic, like his abandonment of his child. Your excellent review (and others) make me doubt that I want to read the new book. I know of several other books that cover the same topic that sound better.

    be safe… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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