Connecting Cultures & Building Community Through Food
Food is a common thread that unites humanity. Beyond sustenance, food teaches us about identity, history, community, and culture. When we share our food, we share our roots. In the words of renowned American chef James Beard, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” And, as culinary historian Michael Twitty wrote, “...your plate is your flag.” While our foodways may vary, the experience of gathering around food is one to which we can all relate. Read on to explore titles that nourish the mind, body, and soul and teach us about food: its history, its many forms, and most importantly, its ability to connect us all.
- The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
- Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
- The Seven Culinary Wonders of the World: A History of Honey, Salt, Chile, Pork, Rice, Cacao, and Tomato by Jenny Linford
- Smithsonian American Table: The Foods, People, and Innovations that Feed Us by Lisa Kingsley
- Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America by Mayukh Sen
- Tasting History: Explore the Past through 4,000 Years of Recipes by Max Miller
IN THE KITCHEN
- 101 Thai Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die: The Essential Recipes, Techniques, and Ingredients of Thailand by Jet Tila
- Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora by Reem Assil
- Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean: Treasured Recipes from a Lifetime of Travel by Claudia Roden
- Eating from our Roots: 80+ Healthy Home-Cooked Favorites from Cultures Around the World by Maya Feller
- Forever Beirut: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Lebanon by Barbara Abdeni Massaad
- In Pursuit of Flavor by Edna Lewis
- King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World by Joan Nathan
- The Latin American Cookbook by Virgilio Martinez
- Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices by Anita Jaisinghani
- Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of American Chinese Food by Brandon Jew
- New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian by Freddie Bitsoie
- Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking by Michelle Rousseau
- Tekebash & Saba: Stories from an East African Kitchen by Saba Alemayoh
In addition to these, we have thousands of cookbooks available in our collection. Browse our online catalog or peruse the 641 section of our nonfiction shelves to discover cuisines from across the globe. Plus, you can find recipes and cooking inspiration through Magzter Library, a digital magazine platform. Visit our Downloads and Streaming page to learn more about accessing Magzter for free with your library card.
And if you’re not confident in your cooking skills and would like to learn more, try taking a course through Universal Class. Universal Class offers more than 500 on-demand courses on a variety of subjects, including cooking! Visit our Research and Learning databases to access Universal Class and set up a free account.
- Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community, and the Meaning of Generosity by Priya Basil
- The Kitchen Without Borders: Recipes and Stories from Refugee and Immigrant Chefs by The Eat Offbeat Chefs
- Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook by LaManda Joy
- Together: Our Community Cookbook by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
- We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by José Andrés
- Why We Cook: Women on Food, Identity, and Connection by Lindsay Gardner
You can also learn about the United States’ rich history of community cookbooks by visiting the Library of Congress’ collection and browsing community cookbooks by region and time period.
Check out these upcoming sessions of our Cook & Book series!
- Making Mozzarella
- Monday, July 24, 7-8:30PM at Varina Library
- Let's make mozzarella! Our Italian colleague, Antonella, will demonstrate how to make this delicious cheese. We'll have books on hand to show you how to make your own cheese at home.
- Cherry Turnovers
- Monday, August 28, 7-8:30PM at Varina Library
- Celebrate National Cherry Turnover Day by sampling a few variations on the theme. You'll be the judge whether canned or fresh cherries are better and if made from scratch pastry dough is really worth the extra effort. After the tasting, get inspired from titles in our collection to make your own.
- Lobster Soul
- Monday, September 11, 7-8:30PM at Varina Library
- Celebrate National Lobster Day with Chef Charles of BlackFolkFood. We can't wait to taste his crustacean creations. As always, we'll have a selection of cookbooks from our collection for further inspiration.
CHILDREN & TEENS
- Tater-Tots Toddler Cooking Class
- Thursdays, July 20 – August 10, 3-3:45PM at Tuckahoe Library
- In this "cooking" class, parents and toddlers will learn how to use kitchen tools, follow recipes, and create some fun and delicious treats.
- Next Food Champion: Ramen Edition for Tweens & Teens
- Thursday, August 17, 2-4PM at Varina Library
- Do you have what it takes to be the next Food Champion? Come prove it! This is our second edition of the Next Food Champion. You will be asked to make a ramen dish using a variety of ingredients, which will be provided. You do not have to know how to cook to participate. Registrants: Be aware that we will be handling a variety of raw ingredients. Please be conscious of your child’s food allergies and inform us of any potential issues.
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