Southern food heritage is one of my favorite topics. So much of southern food heritage is linked to and should be credited to African American women. From the preparation, gardening, techniques and more, the matriarchs of the African American community developed much of the base of Southern and American cuisine. The National Council of Negro Women has an extensive cookbook collection and is the perfect way to learn about the heritage of food from the lense of African American women. Check out these cookbooks to add to your coffee table below!
National Council of Negro Women: Books to Add To Your Coffee Table
As a shared meal nourishes the body, so a quilt, passed from generation to generation, warms and nourishes the spirit. Both recipes and quilts preserve the culture and history of a people and their social, historic, and artistic connections to their past and their future. Celebrating both these traditions, The Black Family Dinner Quilt offers recipes based on both traditional and contemporary African-American cuisine with recipes full of down-home flavor but lower in fat, salt, and sugar. Southern Ham and Shrimp Soup, Country Chicken and Biscuits, Jamaican Pork, Creole Beans and Rice, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, and even Bethune Sweet Potato Pie are just a few of the healthful and soul-satisfying dishes you’ll find in these pages.
From the organization that brought us The Black Family Reunion cookbooks comes The Historical Cookbook of the American Negro, a fun, richly brewed collection of recipes, historical facts, photos, and personal anecdotes. First published in 1958 by the National Council of Negro Women, it includes contributions from members in thirty-six states plus the District of Columbia and offers exceptional insight into American history and the African-American community at the time of its publication. As John Hope Franklin (whose own family owns a copy of the book) points out, much of the cultural information in the cookbook has never been passed down to successive generations.
Arranged according to the calendar year, the cookbook opens with a cake to be baked in celebration of both New Year’s Day and the Emancipation Proclamation. Scattered among the recipes one finds excerpts from documents such as the Gettysburg Address and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tributes to well-known figures like Harriet Tubman, Phillis Wheatley, and Booker T. Washington appear alongside brief bios and recipes in celebration of important but obscured figures. This delightful collection of delicious recipes helps us commemorate African-American history throughout the year.
The Black Family Reunion Celebrations, organized by The National Council of Negro Women and held in seven cities across America every summer, celebrate and preserve the values, traditions, and strengths of the African-American family. Inspired by these festivals, The Black Family Reunion Cookbook contains more than 250 recipes from home kitchens across America, seasoned with warm memories and “homemade love.”
Including personal reminiscences from celebrities such as Natalie Cole, Wilma Rudolph, Patti LaBelle, and Spetman College President Johnetta Cole, this unique collection reflects the local, national, and international heritage of the Black community. It offers dishes for every occasion and every taste, from African-inspired Mustard Greens with Peanut Sauce to down-home Family Famous Chicken and Dumplings, from a traditional gumbo to sophisticated Sweet Potato Smoked Turkey Bisque, and, in honor of the council’s founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, her own recipe for her celebrated Sweet Potato Pie.