Some Food is Calling My Name, Oh Lord What Should I Do?

Ok so I promised a garden list.

Sure-okra, white/yellow/and red onions, black eyed peas and other field peas, melons, corn, squash and cymlings, green beans, soup beans, white/red/blue/yellow potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanuts, cushaws, tomatoes, greens (collards, kale), turnips, parsnips, lettuce, cabbages, green onions, leeks, white/red/purple/yellow carrots, a nice herb patch–rosemary, flat leaf parsley, sage, thyme, dill, purple basil from Eritrea, an Italian green basil or two, sesame, oregano, marjoram, chervil, chives, and as many hot pepper bushes as I can grow to finish seasoning it all, garlic and ginger sounded nice but i think im going to throw them in pots and dream.  The ground opens up as of two weeks past my birthday for cold spring crops.  I’d better be ready.

Not so easy.  I have this dream of trying out recipes to lead to a cookbook but for the ingredients that I really want to use, I have to plant them.  I am no vegetarian and I don’t eat much fish at all, and I love meat and poultry.  The rest, I’ll have to figure out when I cross that bridge, but I can control the fresh vegetable part of the equation.

A person can get a serious case of cookbook overload and end up cooking the exact thing all over again if they aren’t careful.  My solution is to do a combination of classics and creative re-tooling and looking for authentic recipes per my subject areas.  I have been looking at fourteen or so cookbooks as primary source material for the journey–7–classics and 7 usefuls (kinda like seven sweets and seven sours) and maybe adding 7 more sources for fun. I don’t want to ruin the fun by scrambling over cookbooks…And btw, guides don’t count…and there will be 7 of those.  On top of that 7 intellectual works and whatever my mother tells me works counts as one more volume.

So now that I have the perfect number (36), and you wonder why my mother calls me “Monk,” (and you cheder saavy Hebrews out there know why 36 is an important number;) I have a process but no goal.  I want to do the following:

  • invest money in growing my own produce so that I can have what I need for my own kitchen needs, eat locally but not shell out a ton to others for that privilege; save money on food as I explore the possibilities of food
  • grow heirlooms and enjoy them in a sustainable, organic way and take pride in my work
  • expand my knowledge base so that I can make the kind of cooking that I do more meaningful to multiple audiences
  • master historic recipes, traditional recipes, and create new ones based on playing with any and all things I’ve mastered
  • use all of this knowledge to write a cookbook that has one foot in the contemporary world and another foot in the future.  I want it to be persona, to have an Anne Hauck style “food voice” all through it.
  • live in some ways like my ancestors and rely on whats around me
  • I also want to revisit how I’ve provisioned my kitchen–how I stock my pantry, my spice cabinet, and all the basics–leading to how I source my protein.

All of this of course comes from a place of being a part of and celebrating the African American traditional kitchen and its links to continental Africa, the Afro-Caribbean, the Afro-Latin and Afro-Brazilian kitchens and the ways all of these traditions can cross-pollinate with other cuisine traditions, in particular I have a liking for Mediterranean, southern Chinese, and Southeast Asian cooking; and of course Jewish Diaspora cooking which gives me a window into Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa (North Africa, and Ethiopia and more…) India, China, and kosherized versions of other world cuisines.

Oy….I got myself in major trouble already.

Gut Shabbos ya’ll. Any suggestions?

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About michaelwtwitty

I am a Judaics teacher and Culinary Historian focusing on the foodways of Africa, enslaved African Americans, African America and the African and Jewish diasporas.
This entry was posted in Food and Slavery, Food Philosophy at Afroculinaria, Heirloom Gardening/Heritage Breeds and Wildcrafting. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Some Food is Calling My Name, Oh Lord What Should I Do?

  1. Erica Smith says:

    My mouth is watering with that crop list. I would definitely buy a cookbook by you. So get moving – you can’t possibly have taken on too much, now. 🙂

    I’m planting field peas (Big Red Ripper) for the first time this year in our MG demonstration garden. Growing suggestions? I’ve grown their Asian long bean cousins before and had serious aphid problems. Is this likely to happen with the field peas too? Cooking suggestions I’m sure you’ll have in the appropriate time.

    • Red Ripper is pretty hardy. I have had many an aphid in my garden, but I promise you red ripper is worth it. Gosh, 21 peas to the pod and they dry a really pretty maroon with a black eye. People will marvel at your red black eyed peas, and they make for a great hoppin’ john. The young leaves are edible too! I use ashes for aphids and it works pretty good.

      I have taken to making cowpea chilies too! Hmm..okay this is exactly what I needed!

  2. DUDE, i THINK THAT i USED TO SUBCRIBE TO YOUR OLD BLOG,AND I EVEN WROTE YOU IF I RECALL BUT I GUESS THAT YOU WERE TOO BUSY. I BELIEVE THAT YOU HAD ON A PULLOVER AND HAD AN AFRO HOLDING A STICK.RIGHT? IT IS CRAZY WHEN YOU HAVE AN IDEA AND SOMEONE ELSE IS DOING SOMETHING SIMILAR IN OUR CASE WILBERT JONES AND TERRY BRYANT WITH HIS VEGAN BOOK PLUS THIS LADY I KNOW FROM FACEBOOK AND A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG LADY AT SUGARCANE CATERING OUT WEST SOMEWHERE. BUT YOU, YOU WOULD BE GREAT TO WORK WITH YOU ARE THE BLACK SEAN BROCK OUT OF CHARLESTON SC, I DO NOT KNOW YOUR COOKING BACKGROUND OUTER THAN WHAT I READ IN THE PAST WHERE YOU WERE COOKING IN ASH AND WHAT YOU WROTE ON THIS POST BUT I WOULD LOVE TO TALK TO YOU.I TOO HAVE A BLOG THAT IS IN THE BEGINNING STAGES JUST DON’T JACK MY IDEAS,LOL.PEACE!!!

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