Thursday, October 29, 2015

No budget. No publisher. No photographer. No problem!

I am humbled and excited right now, and want to share a bit of the story behind The Ghana Cookbook. I hope it will encourage you.

For years, publishers and agents told me "there's just no market for a sub-Saharan Africa single-country cookbook. Why don't you do a regional Africa cookbook instead?" For years I declined. A writer friend warned me "No agent will pick up a book like that that no one will buy."

I kept saying  "that's like doing a regional "Europe" cookbook, or a regional "Asia" cookbook, and lumping Italian, French, German, British, Dutch, Spanish, etc. together, or Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, etc. all together.

Finally, I started the cookbook myself.  Proposals came back, rejected. "There's no market." I didn't give up. I kept working. I learned to photograph food. I kept writing and speaking. I kept blogging. Along the way, many of you found me and urged me on. New African culinary voices arose. The International Association of Culinary Professionals gave me a boost with a pre-contract grant to pursue my dream. Barbara Baeta in Ghana joined the project. We kept working, fueled by belief and love that someday its time would come.

Finally, in 2014, visionary Priti Chitnis Gress at Hippocrene Books decided to take a chance.

Let's all prove those gatekeepers were wrong--may this cookbook open the floodgates to a realization of the vastness and variety of this huge second-largest continent, with over 4 dozen countries, and the culinary riches it has to share.

Incidentally, "betumi" comes from the Akan word "tumi," meaning the ability to do
something. It alludes to a kind of power that comes from the concentration of ability, the way strands come together to make a broom or a rope strong. To my thinking, "betumi" means "we can do it."

(p. s. please remember these photos are copyrighted.)

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