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Recipes for Respect: African American Meals and Meaning

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by Rafia Zafar
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Zafar, a professor of English, African, and African American studies at Washington University, examines culinary works by Black American authors as efforts to assert "their social status, attain civil rights, and present a dignified professional self to the public," in the face mainstream narratives that portrayed their white employers as the sole "medium through which Black achievements could be made legible." Zafar's study does not claim to be sweepingly comprehensive; instead she highlights distinctive and representative works such as slave narratives; the works of George Washington Carver; Civil Rights-era stories; the 1970s publication of Vibration Cooking by Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor and Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine by Carole and Norma Jean Darden; Edna Lewis's enduring Taste of Country Cooking; and—perhaps most eye-openingly—the unpublished, incomplete cookbook manuscript of Arturo Schomberg, the legendary bibliophile and leader of the Harlem Renaissance, that was the beginning of his attempt to define a Black gastronomy. Refreshingly, Zafar writes engaging and accessible prose that is clearly intended to induce further curiosity in her readers, who will be delighted to find not only footnotes, but a bibliography, features which are so often omitted by modern publishers.

Paperback. Black-and-white photographs.148 pages.

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