Colorful red peppers and tomatoes.

Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed

Written by  Bryant Terry.

A James Beard award-winning chef, author, educator, and food activist, Terry promotes healthy eating through eating local foods with an emphasis on Afro-diasporic foodways.

Foodways describe how the shape and development of food traditions and stories connect us to our ancestors by bringing the past into the modern day. Foodways depict the food habits, economics, cultural and culinary practices of a people, region, or historical period. It is the study of what we eat and why. 

I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but this book spoke to me. It sang of the delights of local, farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and grains combined into delicious dishes that can be shared with all your friends - no matter what part of the food chain they dine on. It tempted me with exotic and tasty recipes that demanded to be tried.

As a person with a passion for good cooking, I especially liked the emphasis on flavorful sauce recipes and spice mixtures. I appreciated learning about the spice combinations and foods common to the African continent, the Caribbean islands and the American South. African and Caribbean dishes are often under represented in our area.

This is not a Vegan Cooking for Extreme Dummies or Cook African Vegan in 15 Minutes or Less with Common Ingredients Found in Most Gas Station Shelves sort of cookbook; it is  written for people who enjoy food and aren't afraid to try new recipes and flavor combinations. If you are the type that complains when you have to microwave a frozen bean burrito for over 1 minute, this book may not be for you. If you regard nutmeg as an exotic and rare ingredient you may also find the book trying. However, if you  like to read cookbooks cover to cover you will likely love this cookbook.

Each recipe is a delightful combination of flavorful food, history lesson, and short story. Along with the recipe, Terry suggests the perfect soundtrack and/or book to accompany preparing dinner.

A food activist, Bryant Terry uses tasty food, art, and culture to try to change people's attitudes about healthy living and the benefits of consuming a plant-based diet. He speaks with passion about the benefits of using fresh local vegetables and fruits in your cooking.

Terry includes many delightful recipes incorporating traditional winter vegetables. As an omnivore, I  plan to incorporate some of the recipes and spices into my own cooking this season. I encourage any vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores with a passion for cooking to check out this book, you will find flavorful local and plant-based recipes that don't pretend to be pale shadows of traditionally meat heavy dishes. Forget bland tofu and embrace the spices!

This book can be found online at the Latah County library.

Click here for a CBS interview and cooking demonstration with Bryant Terry.

Book review by Susan Fluegel, PhD