Marcus Samuelsson’s The Rise puts black American cuisine at the center of the conversation
The climb is more than a cookbook; it is a conversation, a collaboration and, above all, a statement that Black Food Matters. The recipes carry influences from southern, West African, Caribbean and East African cuisine, and are accompanied by a collection of chef profiles and essays from the co- Samuelsson author Osayi Endolyn. These introduce readers to such figures as historian Jessica B. Harris, one of my personal heroes, whose work focuses on the eating habits of the African diaspora; Chef Mashama Bailey of The Gray in Savannah; Michael Twitty, author of The gene for cooking; Leah Chase, queen of Creole cuisine and former chef and owner of Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans; activist Shakirah Simley; Stephen Satterfield, co-founder of Whetstone magazine; winemaker AndrÃ© Hueston Mack; and chef Nina Compton of CompÃ¨re Lapin in New Orleans. The climb begins with a look to the future, exploring where black food is heading, then pays homage to the cooks on whose shoulders black chefs stand, and the migration stories that make cooking so diverse and rich.
I ask Marcus what are the five cookbook ingredients he would advise people to put into their regular rotation. âEveryone should have a jerk mix at home,â he said, âa good Jamaican jerk that you can rub on fish, you can rub on veggies, you can rub on anything. good pickle, a southern pickle. The acid, whether it’s a Haitian pickle or a southern pickle, I think there’s something universal about it. Grits: We learned how to have polenta in home; why can’t we have oatmeal at home? Broken rice came to us from South Carolina through slavery.The grain of teff, to make injera, an incredible flatbread from Ethiopia.
To appreciate Marcus’ unique position in moving this particular conversation forward, it’s important to understand that his roots go back to Ethiopia, Sweden, and a series of French cuisines he trained in. Samuelsson moved to the United States in 1995, quickly made a name for himself and, at the age of 25, earned three stars from The New York Times as head of the New York Aquavit. But the culture and eating habits of black America had been a concern to him even as an adopted child in Sweden (where he was moved at the age of three). âHe’s someone whose life has been shaped by migration,â Endolyn says, âsome of which were not his choice and others were. The story of migration is something he’s thought about a lot, especially The Great Migration, and how it impacted American food. “