Tuesday, November 02, 2010

African Cookbook Project

I recently returned from a trip to the West Coast of the U.S. While there I took the opportunity to stop by one of my favorite bookstores, Powell's in Portland, Oregon, where I picked up a 1971 book published by Dell and called The Art of African Cooking--The Original "Soul Food": 307 recipes from the new African nations. Or, as the cover promises "307 exotic recipes from the first ladies of the new African nations." I've been unable to trace compiler  Sandy Lesberg, except to see that she (he?) was fairly prolific in the 1960s and 1970s, and continued to produce in the 1980s, mostly compilations like this one, often about food, restaurants, or places, or retelling other's stories. At any rate, this unpretentious little book (214 pages, paperback) is interesting historically. It seems Lesberg faithfully included the recipes she was given by various dignitaries, and often did not try to interpret them (e.g., a recipe for Ghanaian  akple calls for 2 cups soured corn dough, fermented [seems redundant, doesn't it] and 1/2 lb. cassava dough, without explaining how one is to obtain such items). While it's not directly written by Africans, I'm still including it on my shelf.

I've also added another reference book. I was delighted when Boston historian James Mcann's book on the history of maize in Africa came out in 2005. He now has another addition to African culinary history, called Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine, part of Ohio University Press' Africa in World History Series. Check out my review in an upcoming issue of Gastronomica (hint: I recommend the book).

1 comment:

Sandy Lesberg said...

MR. Sandy Lesberg was compiled mostly from wives of African ambassadors to the United Nations