By S. Florida Times
WASHINGTON, D.C. – When the Smithsonian Museum opened the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016 the nation’s capital, trying to get a ticket to the historic venue was an extremely challenging prospect. People continue traveling to Washington in droves to experience the museum’s curation of blacks’ experiences in this country.
On the ground floor of the museum exists a bit of culinary history by way of delectable soul food served in the Sweet Home Café – allowing visitors to fill up in the spacious cafeteria before or after filling up on soulful history.
A new cookbook dishes up 109 recipes – taking readers on a delicious journey with salads, sides, soups, snacks, sauces, main dishes, breads, and sweets that emerged in America as African, Caribbean, and European influences blended together.
Featured recipes include Pea Tendril Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes, Hoppin’ John, Sénégalaise Peanut Soup, Maryland Crab Cakes, Jamaican Grilled Jerk Chicken, Shrimp & Grits, Fried Chicken and Waffles, Pan Roasted Rainbow Trout, Hickory Smoked Pork Shoulder, Chow Chow, Banana Pudding, Chocolate Chess Pie, and more.
The book illustrates the pivotal–and often overlooked–role that African Americans have played in creating and re-creating American cuisine. Showcasing African American contributions to American cuisine, the café offers favorite dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, adding modern flavors and contemporary twists on classics. “Sweet Home Café Cookbook” celebrates African American cooking through recipes served by the café itself and dishes inspired by foods from African American culture.
The cookbook’s authors are Jessica B. Harris, chefs Albert Lukas and Jerome Grant. Harris is an award-winning culinary historian, author, and journalist who served as advisor to the museum as it developed the café. She is the author of twelve cookbooks, including “High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America.” Supervising chef Lukas crafted the innovative and highly acclaimed café menu, which ties together food history, heritage ingredient sourcing, and modern tastes. Executive chef Grant oversees the café and develops inventive special meals for holiday and seasonal celebrations.
Famed chef, Carla Hall, said “The recipes and stories in “Sweet Home Café Cookbook” are a wonderful and delicious way to bring history to life. This is a handbook for the culture that shaped American cuisine—cook it, treasure it, and celebrate it at your own table.”
Marcus Samuelsson, chef and co-owner of Red Rooster Harlem, said “This book is a celebration of—and an education in—the cuisine that helped forge the culture of this country. Delving into the history of dishes rooted in Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe, “Sweet Home Café Cookbook” sheds much-needed light on the unique and critical role African Americans played in shaping the way we eat today.”
This article originally appeared in the South Florida Times.