I have been quietly researching the subject of my cookbook for months now. I haven’t gotten to writing or recipe testing yet. I’m still very much at the beginning stages of book writing which is in-depth research that takes much longer than one realizes. The subject matter of my book is how the African diaspora has influenced Latin American cooking. Sounds straightforward, but it’s been a difficult road, to say the least.
Looking for Afro-Latin dishes has been quite daunting. There are hundreds of recipes, but where are they? How do I search for the recipes + stories of people who have historically had their history erased and/or buried? How do I find or make these connections? The search has been exhausting. There have been moments of wanting to give up due to barely finding any information. I have to continue to remind myself who this book is for and why I’m writing it.
What I have found is that there is beautiful cross-pollination of ingredients + recipes across Latin America. Most countries have the same dish but it may be called something else or there is a slight variant to how the dish is put together. Some of the most frequent dishes I stumbled upon are sancocho, tostones, beans + rice, and fried yucca. One of the biggest things I’ll have to decide is who gets to claim these dishes? Which country will I feature each one for?
I’m sure everyone has heard the phrase by now that “food is political”, but what food really is, is personal. Especially in this day and age of cancel culture where any misstep can lead you to be entirely dismissed it’s hard to figure out how to give agency to all these minority groups within each country. Folks will literally come for you if they feel their favorite food has been done a disservice. I’m not scared of folks coming for me. I understand that there will always be unsatisfied people no matter what anyone does.
That being said my cookbook will feature all the Latin American countries that have a high Afro-population. I’ll be interviewing folks about my favorite thing - identity + food! Right now travel is hard, but I plan on selecting at least 2-3 countries to visit once vaccinations are available to more people. My first trip is planned for the end of March (I bought these tickets last Spring when everyone thought this thing would end in a couple of months...boy were we all wrong. But I can’t reschedule for the umpteenth time so I will take precautions and go). Of course, I’ll document the entire experience and will share snippets here in this newsletter. I won’t say where I’m going until I’ve gone + come back, but it’s not very far.
In the meantime, I’m gonna do what I hate the most...self-promotion!
Would love for folks to follow me over on the only social media tool that I use + equally despise (sometimes), Instagram. My goal is to pop over the 1K threshold. Again, you can’t sell a book to an audience of zero so would love folks to engage with me there. I cook A LOT + share what I’m usually cooking for dinner with the hashtag #whatsfordinner.
I also would love for everyone to share Food For Thought. with their friends + fam. Getting them to subscribe would be fantastic. Enough of my rambling. Have a great week!
Cook. Eat. Repeat.