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OP: A Date with a Dish

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by Freda De Knight

Hermitage Press, Inc., 1948. Hardcover. Very Good, missing jacket. First printing.

Freda De Knight (1909–1963) was not only the first food editor of Ebony magazine, she was also the first Black food editor for a major publication in the US. Her first and only cookbook, A Date with a Dish, was published in 1948. 

De Knight, raised in South Dakota by adoptive parents who happened to be caterers, writes a book reflective of the middle class Black diaspora for whom dishes like arroz con pollo, gumbo, stuffed peppers, meat loaf, spaghetti, barbecue, crab and tomato bisque, roast capon, and kitchari all had a place on the table—an important statement rejecting the notion the Black food was specifically or only southern in nature.

A chapter called The Collector’s Corner—which includes brief biographies and recipes from Black cooks around the country—was removed for the 1962 and subsequent editions (at which point it was also retitled The Ebony Cookbook). It is a special honor, then, to offer a copy of the scarce first printing, in which the book can be enjoyed in its original entirety.

Ours is a review copy sent to Wilma Phillips Stewart, former food editor of the Des Moines Register, acquired from her successor Alvina Mattes’ estate. Stewart’s ownership signature and review date (Aug 8, 1948) are penned on the front free endpaper. Rust and indentation from a paperclip to the first few unpaginated leaves. Some spots of minor soiling but largely clean and crisp. Very Good, overall. Lacking the jacket.

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