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Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from My African American Kitchen

Flatiron: Macmillan. Feb. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781250098092. $35. COOKING
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Smalls (Between Harlem and Heaven) and Chambers (Queen Bey) combine ideas behind music and food to reflect the heart of the African American community. Each chapter introduction includes a brief description of how a particular food resonates with the authors. Starters, for example, are paired with jazz, emphasizing that starters often have a common base but improvisation can create something distinct that reflects the taste of the cook. The real gems are the hints of personal remembrances associated with both food and music. The chapter on greens and gospel indicate a close relationship with a grandfather who taught Smalls how to garden, and also the importance of celebrating and respecting what has been given. Recipes themselves reflect a deep heritage that draws from African American communities throughout the southern United States, while highlighting differences among local regional cuisines.
VERDICT With straightforward instructions, this personal read presents dishes that are familiar favorites with a unique and delightful spin.

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