Cookbook Club with BEM

Cookbook Club with BEM

It's the November edition of the Graza Cookbook Club! Bringing you our favorite bookstores' favorite reads :-) This month, we turned to our pals at BEM | books & more for their fall picks!

November Reads

BEM | books & more is a Black food bookstore founded in January 2021 by two sisters as a home for readers, writers, cooks, and eaters passionate about Black cultures in all their diversity. Taking an expansive approach to the nexus of food, literature, and culture, BEM celebrates Black food by bringing works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry for readers of all ages into conversation with cookbooks and culinary studies to explore how what feeds us defines us. This month, they're sharing their fall cookbook picks.

Fall feels like the perfect time to get cozy with a good book and a bowl of something delicious. Here are some selections that we’re excited to dive into this autumn. They offer an example of what we mean by Black food literature – we’ve got cookbooks (of course), poetry, a historical cocktail book, a gorgeously illustrated story for the children in your life, and more. Dig in & enjoy!

For the Culture: Phenomenal Black Women and Femmes in Food

by Klancy Miller

Beloved New York-based pastry chef, food writer, and literal ‘Trailblazer’ according to the 2022 IACP Awards, Klancy Miller set her sights on a book celebrating her community: phenomenal Black women & femmes in food. Through 66 personal interviews, learn about some of the past and present figures bringing dynamism, diversity, and change to the food & beverage industry.

Plantains and Our Becoming: Poems

by Melania Luisa Marte

In this collection, Melania Luisa Marte asserts and explores her afro-latina identity traversing the Dominican Republic, New York, and Haiti. Beautiful and honest, these poems offer so much food for thought for readers interested in what’s required to create a self across geographies. We love turning to poetry or short story collections for literary genius in smaller bites, and Plantains and Our Becoming is just that.

Food Power Politics: The Food Story of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

by Bobby J. Smith II

This incisive nonfiction frames the Civil Rights Movement as a key moment when Black activists across the political spectrum asserted food justice as essential to the fight for equality. Bobby J. Smith II also draws connections from 1950s’ organizing to today’s multigenerational Black food justice movement, insisting that we remain unfree until high quality fresh ingredients are available to all.

My Everyday Lagos: Nigerian Cooking at Home and in the Diaspora

by Yewande Komolafe

My Everyday Lagos reads like an expertly guided food tour of one of Africa’s most populous cities. In between personal essays and incredible recipes like those Yewande’s become known for on NYT Cooking and elsewhere, My Everyday Lagos walks you through a week’s worth of meals in a vibrant and ever-changing metropolis.

Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs, and Juice: Cocktails from Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks

by Toni Tipton-Martin

Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs, and Juice is the third in a triptych by James Beard Award-winning food historian and writer Toni Tipton-Martin that started with The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks and Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks. This offering comes out November 14 and surveys the history of Black bartending and mixologists alongside some incredible cocktail recipes, including one for a Jerk-Spiced Bloody Mary! As temperatures cool, invite friends over for a night of beverages plus some revelatory historical context for where and when the recipes emerged.

Chef Edna: Queen of Southern Cooking, Edna Lewis

by Melvina Noel, with illustrations by Cozbi A. Cabrera

A stunning tribute to a titan of Black foodways, Chef Edna will delight you and the little ones in your life as it illuminates Edna Lewis’s early life in Freetown, Virginia and her journey to New York City. Learn about the beginnings of what we now think of as “farm to table” cooking, which stemmed from the love of seasonal, fresh ingredients that Chef Edna’s Southern upbringing instilled in her. This gorgeous picture book is illustrated by the brilliant Cozbi A. Cabrera, who also wrote and illustrated Me & Mama, an ode to the best cozy rainy day.

Butter Honey Pig Bread

by francesca ekwuyasi

In francesca ekwuyasi’s newest book, Curious Sounds, co-written with chef and musician Roger Mooking and out this November, she describes the themes of Butter Honey Pig Bread, her acclaimed debut novel, as “death, food, love, ‘madness,’ the malleability of time, and consciousness.” ekwuyasi’s gift for language brings this deeply diasporic and very foodie intergenerational family novel alive – and makes it one of our favorites to recommend.

Photo credit - Clay Williams