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The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa [Hardcover]

Marcus Samuelsson , Desmond Tutu , Heidi Sacko Walters , Gediyon Kifle
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 19 2006
"For as long as I can remember, I've had Africa on my mind." Award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson may be best known for his innovative take on Scandinavian cuisine at New York's Restaurant Aquavit, but his story begins thousands of miles away, in Africa. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden by adoptive parents, his life transcends national boundaries, and his individual approach to cuisine is a global yet personal one that draws freely from many ethnic and cultural influences.

In The Soul of a New Cuisine, Marcus returns to the land of his birth to explore the continent's rich diversity of cultures and cuisines through recipes and stories from his travels in Africa. Stunning color images by award-winning photographer Gediyon Kifle bring the breadth of the African experience to life, from fishermen at sunset off the coast of Zanzibar to French baguettes loaded onto a bicycle in Senegal.

Marcus shares more than 200 enticing recipes, including his own African-inspired creations and traditional dishes from all parts of Africa. You can delight in spicy stews and Barbequed Snapper from West Africa and the familiar Mediterranean flavors of dishes like Moroccan Lemon-Olive Chicken, or make your way east and south for the irresistible taste combinations of dishes such as Curried Trout with Coconut-Chili Sauce from Kenya and Apple-Squash Fritters from South Africa's Cape Malay. Using ingredients that are readily available in American markets, the recipes are doable as well as delicious.

Of course, one of the keys to authentic African cooking is the use of spice blends and rubs, which elevate simple cooking techniques to an excitingly varied and intense level. Marcus includes his favorites here, with blends that go from sweet to spicy and feature everything from hot chili peppers and peppermint leaves to sesame seeds and ginger.

As he says, Africa is "a state of mind that I hope this book will help you tap into wherever you are." By cooking with a handful of this and a pinch of that, trying new foods and enjoying old ones in a new way, and lingering over meals with family and friends, you will bring the free, relaxed spirit of African cooking to your table and discover for yourself the soul of a "new" cuisine.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Born Ethiopian, raised Swedish, and now one of New York City's top chefs, Samuelsson (Aquavit: And the New Scandinavian Cuisine) has written an exotic yet accessible book that will hasten the coming of the African fusion cookery he envisions. His 204 recipes and 258 color photos are enriched with personal and political history; as in his many condiments and sauces, the balance is right. While he stresses the diversity and bounty of the second-largest continent, he repeatedly describes African cuisine as poor people's cooking, crafted with simple tools and necessarily emphasizing starches, vegetables and big flavors. Whether it's rosemary for Honey Bread or turmeric, ginger and cinnamon in his Vegetable Samosas, herbs and spices are always sauteed in oil or tossed in a hot dry pan, to intensify and mellow. He even proposes toasting the cinnamon for the whipped cream accompanying his Ethiopian Chocolate Rum Cake. The recipe for the cake is typical: the batter is prepared in a single bowl, mixed with a spoon, and bakes up moist and gingerbread-like, with great keeping properties. Toasting the cinnamon takes seconds and is impressive in the complexity it delivers. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Samuelsson established his reputation as one of the foremost exponents of contemporary Swedish cookery through Aquavit, his celebrated New York City restaurant. Now he travels to wholly new territory by returning to the land of his birth and the glorious traditions of African cooking. From his native Ethiopia he prepares injera, the country's staple fermented flatbread. Moroccan cooking, one of Africa's most sophisticated, contributes harissa, a fiery spice paste that warms many North African dishes. Cassava stuffs shrimp for a satisfying West African meal. Samuelsson substitutes beef for lamb in South Africa's renowned bobotie but takes care to preserve the dish's curry-influenced spicing. Jerk chicken, more generally associated with Jamaica, shows how African eating traditions have spread abroad. He does not flinch at using contemporary ingredients such as arugula and Yukon Gold potatoes to make his recipes attractive. The immensity and diversity of Africa make it difficult to comprehend a continent's varied cooking styles in a single book, but Samuelsson's achievement celebrates a little-known cuisine. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and Extremely Useful Book! June 1 2009
By bachef TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a gorgeous book not only to read but to create with. As mentioned in another review, most ingredients are obtainable in Canada (in the larger cities and specialty shops). This is one of my favourite ethnic books - wonderful recipes and information. Am cooking from it tonight again. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful! Feb. 11 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is actually by Markus Samuelsson, not Desmond Tutu (although he wrote the intro).
Beautiful and inspiring book. The recipes are flavourful, African inspired, but definitely European/North American friendly, too (I can find the ingredients here in Canada).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars easy and delicious intro to African flavours July 8 2010
By mmm
Very pleasantly surprised with the results after trying this cookbook. The ingredients are not difficult to find, the recipes are easy to follow, and the results are a wonderful, nonintimidating introduction to meals which are different than the usual North American cuisine. The book itself is a beauty! The photographs are gorgeous - perfect to curl up on the sofa and drool over. Cultural tidbits spice up the journey through African cuisine. Very accessible for North Americans. Highly recommend. I have had a lot of fun exploring these recipes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  64 reviews
60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably Good Recipes. March 7 2008
By Tess - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am obsessed with this cookbook, especially now that I have had a chance to make some of the recipes. If you are looking for new flavors and interesting and challenging new foods to cook then I highly recommend you buy this book. Unlike some other reviewers, I did not buy this book for the travelogue aspect. I wasn't looking for an in depth encyclopedic knowledge of any specific country's cuisine. I was just looking for something new and different and delicious. I'm a cook and a foodie and I love ethnic cooking. This book is a great introduction to the trendiest new food in the US. My favorite so far has been the Crab Burgers, which feature easy black bean crab burgers topped with pickled cabbage and chili mayonnaise. I can still taste how unique and delicious they were. Everyone who tried them was blown away by their flavor, which can't really be imagined before you take a bite. While making all the components was a bit time consuming (but really not that bad) none of the recipes were terribly difficult. But I would say this book is geared more to more experienced home cooks and adventuresome eaters. Those with mundane palates probably should stay away.

In response to an earlier critique, I think that reviewer missed the gist of the book. The idea was to take the cuisine of various African countries and get the basic idea of it but then to expand that idea to something bigger. So the recipes keep a common ingredient but fix it in a unique way or use a technique with a unique combination of ingredients. I love this about the book. Samuelsson keeps techniques, such using a morter and pestle, that can't be matched with modern methods but uses modern technology, such as the mandoline, when it performs the needed task more easily, and in this case if your knife skills are lacking, with better results. I do agree, however, that the photographs that go with the recipes can be misleading. I'm still not sure what the Stir Fry Beef Stew is supposed to look like. The pictures on the pages with the recipe are vastly different and not labeled but both could be the stew in question.

All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves cooking and ethnic foods. The flavors are out of this world and the recipes are highly inspiring.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Work Nov. 25 2007
By A. Flamholz - Published on Amazon.com
I just made a meal for 10 people from Marcus Samuelsson's new cookbook. 6 of them kept strict kosher, 3 of them were vegetarian, one was allergic to the entire nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant), and another to hard cheese and chocolate. I still managed to produce a great meal with more than enough to eat for everyone and to introduce myself and my friends and family to flavors they might not otherwise have experienced.

The book is impressive both as an exploration of African culture through a Western culinary lens and as a source of widely varied, great, flavorful, and simple recipes. Marcus' perspective is intriguing because he grew up a European but was born an Ethiopian - he clearly feels a deep connection to Africa (especially Ethiopia) and somehow simultaneously commands the perspective of an insider and an outsider. A great read. I very highly recommend it.
58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Recipes Jan. 8 2007
By M. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
I agree with B. Marold that the writing is weak, but who "reads" cookbooks? I got the book for Xmas and have made a few of the recipes, and they are HEAVEN. Last night: a roast chicken stuffed with olives, ginger, cardamom, lemon rind and rubbed with a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, cardamom and ginger. Each bite burst with the individual flavors. I was in love. That recipe alone was worth the $26.40. And there are dozens more that I can't wait to try. This is food porn at its best.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure Oct. 26 2007
By NuJoi - Published on Amazon.com
I collect historical cookbooks and cultural cookbooks. This book is both! There is a ton of information about Africa. Samuelsson has divided its cuisine into four regions. Outside of Moroccan, I know nothing about African cuisine, so I found this book extremely helpful. The beautiful photography and personal stories really bring the dishes to life.

The book is divided into the following sections:
- Ingredients
- Spice Blends & Rubs: 11 recipes
- Condiments, Sauces & Dips: 13 recipes
- Salads & Sides: 9 recipes
- Breads & Sandwiches: 11 recipes
- Vegetables: 12 recipes
- Fish & Seafood: 10 recipes
- Poultry & Meat: 19 recipes
- Desserts & Drinks: 10 recipes

My favorite sections are the spice blends and condiments chapters. They add variety to simple stuff like grilled chicken breasts.

The U.S. has fully embraced cuisines from many parts of the world. Indian cookery seems to be our latest fascination. I applaud Samuelsson for pushing the envelope futher with the favorites of Northern, Western, Eastern and Southern Africa. As we explore more with our taste buds, these flavors will become just as welcomed to use as hot and sour soup.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recipes look wonderful, but what region is it from? May 23 2012
By AJL - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Considering that the whole of the continental United States could fit in the North West corner of Africa alone, it was disappointing that the recipes were not clearly labeled with what region or country they were from. It's like dumping Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai food into one cookbook and calling it "Asian Food." True yes, but if anyone is going to go out of their way to buy a cookbook from a famous chef about a continent that doesn't have many cookbooks, I think it would imply that most of them would be foodies. I would hope that the clarity of what culinary tradition the food is coming from is very important to them and simply lumping it into "African Food" seems quite insulting to such an amazing continent with such diverse and amazing food traditions.

I understand that African cuisine is foreign to a lot of palates and this cookbook is arranged with this in mind. I just hoped there would be some kind of index with where the recipes came from. In that way, I could build a meal from one area.

I encourage Marcus Samuelsson's next book to take this in mind. There is a vast difference between Nigerian, Algerian, and Ethiopian food and I would love to be educated in what this difference is. I also am yearning for a real Ethiopian cookbook with modern culinary cooking technique in mind. And so far the Ethiopian cookbooks I have come across have come up very short. I hope Marcus Samuelsson might look into this too.

In short, if you want to get a generalized idea on what African cuisine is like this is a wonderful book. But if you want to get down and really dig into African cooking, I don't think this book is it, nor do I think there is any cookbook that has been published yet that can deeply educate on little explained African cooking traditions and that also dazzles and delights palates as well.
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