Like so many great love affairs, this one began with trepidation.
After all, an astringent personality is not something one warms to readily. What was required was untold patience for its latent sweetness to reveal itself in time.
Such was my relationship with Hachiya persimmons.
Now, with its cousin, the Fuyu, the attraction was immediate. Cheerfully hued, beguilingly sweet, and ready to eat in a flash while still crisp, the Fuyu is thoroughly captivating in salads or pickled.
But the Hachyia? Well, it was more like that demon lurking in the shadows in a horror movie, biding its time as it transformed ever so slowly but surely into something blobby, oozy, and frightening.
Can you blame me for trying to avoid it for years?
Activist, historian and food writer Toni Tipton-Martin’s book, of which I received a review copy, contains more than 100 recipes. But it is so much more than a cookbook. It is a resounding testament to the ingenuity, fortitude, passion and perseverance of African-American cooks throughout the ages.
When you think of African-American cuisine, you might automatically think soul food. But Tipton-Martin shows the real breadth of the cuisine. With hundreds of historical cookbooks she’s collected over the years, she combed through recipes to get at the heart of how black cooks have richly shaped our culinary landscape through the ages.
The result are recipes that are both modern and timeless, such as “Curried Meat Pies,” “Jamaican Jerk Ribs,” “Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Wings,” “Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne,” and “Caramel Cake.”
What’s more, with many of the recipes, she also includes the actual historical recipe that inspired it with its succinct measurements and directions. By doing so, she connects the past to the present, making you really feel as if you are carrying on a cultural and culinary tradition whenever you take the time and effort to make one of these recipes.
It comprises more than 150 cookie recipes. There are short-cut ones such as “Santa Heart-Shaped Cookies” that make use of Betty Crocker cookie mix. But if you’re more inclined to make your cookies entirely from scratch, there are plenty of those types of recipes, too, including boozy “Bourbon Old-Fashioned Cups” (that includes bourbon and Angostura bitters), “Sparkling Orange Ricotta Sandwich Cookies” that makes use of orange juice, orange zest and candied orange slices, and “Chocolate Coconut Cookie Tots” (that require no baking at all).