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Slow Books: Summer Recommendations

The Slow Books curators have hand-picked recommended readings to add to your summer reading list! Below you’ll find a list of books that pair well with the issues that we’re talking about and celebrating each month at Slow Food.

Click the book covers below to go to find them on the Slow Food USA Bookshop page. Bookshop.org sources from local independently owned bookstores to secure your title, and by purchasing through the Slow Food USA affiliate page, you are also supporting our organization at the same time (everybody wins)!

June

Pride Month and Juneteenth on June 19th

Recommended by Cedar Schimke

Son of a Southern Chef: Cooking with Soul
by Lazarus Lynch

In this vibrant and intensely colorful cookbook, Lazarus Lynch invites us into a wonderland of soul food. Lazarus in a pink suit coat with a wild grin, holding an Old-Fashioned NYC Chocolate Milk so tall the whipped cream and chocolate sauce are spilling over the sides of the glass. Melty, stringy, creamy mac and cheese—one of his dad’s recipes—that is the stuff macaroni dreams are made of. Lazarus’ manicured nails covered in flour, with his mom feeding him deep-fried saltfish Guyanese bake. 

This cookbook is an unapologetically loud, liberated, adventurous ode from an award-winning chef to his father and what his dad taught him about food and following your own path.

“ Worthiness is at the core of living a life of purpose and fulfillment. You are worthy of respect, compassion, and kindness. You are worthy of self-appreciation, joy, and self-love. You are worthy of being treated with dignity and humanity. Make no apologies and walk in your worthiness.” – Lazarus Lynch, Son of a Southern Chef.

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South
by Michael Twitty

A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry–both black and white–through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who owns it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine. 

From the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields, Twitty tells his family story through the foods that enabled his ancestors’ survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia. 

As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep–the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

July

In response to the New York Times Magazine’s article/interview with Alice Waters, here are a few articles and resources about food sovereignty and food equity:

Seven Sisters: Ancient Seeds & Food Systems of the Wabanaki People and of the Chesapeake Bay Region
by Frederick Wiseman

This book tells the story of a remarkable seed chase that is combined with the reclamation of lost heritage of the Wabanaki people, their history and culture, and the rediscovery of their ancient agricultural technologies.  Also highlighted are ancient seeds from the Chesapeake Bay region.

This  7” x 10” full colour publication offers a compilation of numerous, heirloom seeds, along with photographs, descriptions and their origins.  The book also describes the ancient agricultural systems used by the Wabanaki people, as well as their agricultural ceremonies and calendar. 

A great book for seed savers and students of environmental and indigenous studies.

Frederick M. Wiseman, PhD – Trained as an archaeologist and ecologist.  Wiseman is devoted to the promotion of North American Indigenous  cultures and the preservation of their ancient agricultural practices and food systems.  Retired as Professor of Humanities at Johnson State College, he continues to represent Native American interests in New England, eastern Canada, the Chesapeake Bay area, Arizona and northwestern Mexico.

Crying in H Mart
by Michelle Zauner

This is a memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

In this story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

Plastic Free July

One Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You and Your Family
by Anna Jones

One brings together a way of eating that is mindful of the planet. Anna gives you practical advice and shows how every small change in planning, shopping and reducing waste will make a difference. There are also 100 recipes for using up any amount of your most-eaten veg and ideas to help you use the foods that most often end up being thrown away.

This book is good for you, your pocket and the planet.

August

National Farmers Market Week (1st week in Aug)

Recommended by Katie Johnson. 

Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger: A Memoir
by Lisa Donovan

When I think about farmers market season (as I do with increased vigor during Farmers Market Week, the first week in August), I think about the act of feeding people. Feeding a hunger for sustenance,  yes, but also feeding other hunger and desires as well. Lisa Donovan knows a thing or two about the different types of hunger we all experience. Literal hunger for nutritious, delicious food; figurative hunger for a better food system and hospitality experience – particularly for women; hunger for a yet to be defined version of success. (i.e. Do you have to work for a celebrity chef or win awards to be successful? And at what cost? The short answer, no.) A phenomenal writer who also happens to be an acclaimed pastry chef, Donovan reminds us that food feeds us in more ways than simply relieving physical hunger. When in doubt, do as Lisa does – stick your hands in some flour and feed your body and soul.

Why We Cook: Women on Food, Identity, and Connection
by Lindsay Gardner

This book has everything your dual food and book loving heart could ever want – recipes, musings, essays, food illustrations, data (in pie chart form) from home cook surveys, interviews and more! From big names (Ruth Reichl, Dorie Greenspan, Carla Hall, Amanda Cohen), to midwest icons (Abra Berens – Chef at Michigan’s Granor Farm and author of Ruffage, Jeni Britton Bauer – Founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Maya-Camille Broussard – Chicago’s Justice of the Pies, Lisa Ludwinski – Detroit’s Sister Pie, Zoe Schor – Chicago’s Split Rail ), farmers , authors and chefs as radical activists for change (Leah Penniman, Julia Turshen, Priya Krishna, Rachel Khong); there’s something for everyone in this compilation of stories and recipes that celebrate a love of breaking bread and sharing a meal with others – not to mention the food memories and heritage that are preserved by way of cooking and eating. Plus with such a diverse list of women in varying realms of “food,”  you just might learn about a new chef/farmer/journalist/author/cook that wasn’t previously on your radar to admire.

There’s No Ham in Hamburgers: Facts and Folklore about Our Favorite Foods
by Kim Zachman, Illustrated by Peter Donnelly

This one’s for the kids (but adults might learn a thing or two as well)! Kim Zachman, along with most littles you may know, whole-heartedly embraces the question, “Why?” As you might have already guessed, the premise of the book follows common puzzlers such as why “hamburgers” are called “hamburgers” when there is, in fact, NO HAM in them. In some cases, we get an answer, and in others, we’re left with more questions thanks to the intertwining history of fact and folklore. No matter your age, this is a fun book that gives backstory to the evolution of some iconic foods – hamburgers, ice cream, chocolate and cereal (to name a few). Additionally, this book begs its readers to question “why” and “where did that come from?” – questions that ultimately, can create consumers who care about the journey their food takes before getting to their plates – an ideal that aligns with the “good, clean and fair” food transparency Slow Food strives for.

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