21 POC Written Works All About Food to Inspire You in 2021
From protest recipes to nostalgia zines, diaspora cook books to reflections on hospitality and collaborative fundraisers supporting communities through COVID-19, we’ve compiled a mix of 21 food books written by People of Colour showing just how powerful food writing can be in helping us learn.
We hope they inspire you to create your own future possibilities - and remind you that there’s always amazing people out there doing creative things to lift and platform our community! Join in.
Protest and Community
1. In 2020, Tunde Wey and Ruth Gebreyesus took over Sandwich Magazine for a Special Issue. Using the sandwich as a vehicle to talk about colonialism and the relationship between Africa and the white West, "we found an ingredient for each theme and then layered them to make a sandwich - (‘The African Scramble’) - that can represent our stories''. These themes include: White Bread = Neo-Liberal Trade; Eggs = Revolution, Consumption = Slavery, and all pieces were contributed by "Africans living in Africa'' featuring: My First Time eating tripe; Grandma’s Snack; 100 Ways To Scramble A Continent. Tunde and Ruth chose to price the special issue at $100 because:
"This magazine is typically sold at $15.
This particular magazine issue, which costs $100, is about Africa.
Africa was a site of slavery and it suffered immensely.
Read more / order.
2. Chinese Protest Recipes
This zine is a project of resistance created by @thegodofcookery and designed by @rontau of @meatstudio. He calls it “a very personal project that protests against racial inequality and white supremacy in the food world. At this moment, as we struggle to get through a racial pandemic, this project acts as a form of culinary and literary protest, through the lens of Chinese food”. Profits of the first release were donated to Black Lives Matter and it has been re-released this month! Free to download here.
3. Have You Eaten Yet?
A collaborative recipe zine (and red envelopes), run by Save Our ChinaTowns to fundraise for Oakland ChinaTown businesses: @yuenhopoakland, @camanhdeli, @greenfishseafood. Have You Eaten Yet was released on 25th Jan 2021 and has sold out already! Shipping Nationwide, look out for a restock soon.
4. Farming While Black
Written by Soul Fire Farm co-founder, Leah Penniman, Farming While Black is “the first comprehensive manual for African-heritage people ready to reclaim their rightful place of dignified agency in the food system with a “how-to” for all aspects of small-scale farming”, and was released in 2018.
Soul Fire Farm is an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism in the food system, and part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid. Follow on Instagram.
An online recipe book curated by Riaz Phillips, bringing together 100+ cooks of migrant heritage to raise money for Black, Asian and Minority victims of COVID. “It was cross-cultural. I wanted to champion chefs I like and appreciate, and I thought if Mexican people knew about jolly rice or Nigerian people knew about empanadas and Middle Eastern people knew about jerk chicken and Caribbean people knew about lentil dal, there was so much to be gained.” All profits go to The Majonzi Fund. Donate and download here.
6. Plant Based Planet
“A curation of recipes from around the world by those who know it best”, Plant Based Planet is a digital cookbook curated by Sareta Puri and The Vegan Food Fiend dropping at the end of this month. “The book was born out of a joint love of global cuisine but a frustration at the lack of diverse voices and stories prominently available. We created it to showcase and amplify that plant-based cuisine can be found all around the world, and to champion those sharing their heritage and stories through their food”. All profits from the book will go to the @foodempowermentproject - a global food justice organisation that aligns with both editors' values of intersectional veganism.
Magazines and Zines
7. Fatboy Zine
By designer, Christopher O’Leary who calls it a “a greedy attempt to document a small part of Asian food and culture - and the misconception of someone like me who is considered to make “fusion” food. A misconception which devalues the idea that people can represent multiple points of view when it comes to how they experienced culture growing up. Fatboy is a diary and a cookbook. Mapping recipes I recorded from my time in China and the Philippines, before bringing them to England". The latest edition, Politics and Palettes is set in Hong Kong. From the “diverse layers of languages and accents folate towards me in between the smells of sugar, exhaust and soy sauce”, to photographer Kenneth Lam’s close-ups of Grand Lam’s hands amongst the “lotus smell and dust” of her village, and ending on recipes for coca-cola chicken thighs that Christopher loved as a child. Buy them here.
8. Chicken + Bread
A brand new zine to get involved in! "Celebrating food as art and centring people of colour” by Hope Lauren Ashley - “Issue 01 soon come” it’s all about NOSTALGIA. “Hearing stories like the one time my pals almost got jumped in a chip shop have helped me get through the ups and downs of this year, so it’s only right to share this with others and hear your stories too”. Hope is currently accepting submissions - “from how you season your beans to poems and photos”. Apply here.
9. Eat Bitter
A 2020 Zine by Creative Dir. Lydia Pang and Photographer Louside Hagger which they call “an ode to and celebration of the spirit of the Pang family and their Hakka Heritage. Eating bitter and the idea of resilience and patience in dark times which has grown into sharper significance in 2020". A portion of the profits are donated to Welcome Chinatown, an initiative that supports Chinese businesses affected due to the increased xenophobia in the wake of COVID-19. With “Punk posters, Good Luck Chinese red tones hero but with a purposeful nod to the blood of red meat. It’s time for everyone to know what Hakka culture tastes like”. It IS currently sold out, but hoping a new batch comes soon!
10. Plantain Papers
“People with a side of plantain”. Plantain Papers is an independent yearly print journal ‘co-fryed’ by Tamika Abaka-Wood, Tahirah Edwards-Byfield and Lemara Lindsay-Princ. “It’s a literary ode to plantain and the people who eat it. Plantain serves as a delicious conduit for conversations and stories amongst people who eat it; centering around the experiences of people from African, Caribbean, Latinx, and South Asian communities''. Issue 03 is available to download for free, or order in print.
11. For The Culture Food Mag
A printed magazine celebrating Black women and femmes in food and wine, founded by Author and Pastry Chef, Klancy Miller. The stories are about Black women throughout the diaspora, written by Black women and photographed and illustrated by Black women because “Black women are the architects of cuisines and kitchens in the U.S. and in so many countries throughout the world and our stories about our expertise, experience and relationships to food do not get enough attention or coverage”. It is the first magazine of its kind. Issue 01, “It’s Personal + The Pandemic” is out now and follow them on Insta!
Non-Fiction and Memoirs
12. Be My Guest
Released just before Covid, Priya Basil’s Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity has even more resonance in 2021 as we turn to food to heal us through the crisis while simultaneously much of the Hospitality Industry has had to close its doors. Her writing calls us to urgently respect the people creating those spaces, especially through these hard times, and look at Hospitality as a ground for mutual exchange and conversation (when we re-enter!) “Unconditional hospitality could change the world”.
13. Belly Full
The 2nd Edition of writer and photographer, Riaz Phillip’s Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK was released in December 2020. This beautiful book tells the stories of Caribbean Eateries and the people behind them, a project Riaz started in early 2016. He saw the huge lack of representation for Caribbean food in the mainstream media and documenting was a way to platform these incredible businesses. Edition 2 means “new cover, more pages, more food, more stories, more faces.” A lot of these places are open for takeaway currently - so it's also a very useful eating guide to accompany you through the lockdowns! (As is Insta). Order here.
14. Black, White and the Grey
‘The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Landmark Restaurant’ released in January 2021. Here's a description by educator Michael J. Twitty, as we can’t really say it better: “It's rare that you get the vivid biography of an American culinary institution; especially one like @thegreysavannah a restaurant that defied the odds of history the moment it was born of the shell of the old Savannah segregated Greyhound bus station. Get this book. It is a testimony to friendship, resurrection, renewal and healing through partnership and the celebration of brilliantly conceived food. Great job @mashamabailey and @johnomorisano!” - Order here.
15. The Cooking Gene
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South is a Food Memoir written by Michael W. Twitty - an African-American Jewish writer, food historian, and educator - published in 2017. In it, he traces his ancestry—both Black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom showing how “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”.
16. In The Kitchen
Bringing together 13 essays and personal reflections by food writers on what the kitchen means to them in small but beautiful ways - the sounds, smells and textures - and it's so, so comforting to read. From the love of Cheung Feng and steamy windows by Nina Mingya Powle, to ‘The Long and Short of the Love Affair that Imploded because of Eccles Cakes, Three-Quarters of a Quiche and Don’t-cut-my-leg African Chicken’ by Yemisi Aribisala, it highlights the emotional connections to food, how cooking and eating shapes us and how powerful it is as a tool for community. Order here.
17. Tasty Reggae
By “art school gangster” Kenya Hanley, who has devoted the past decade to drawing his two great loves: food and reggae musicians. Illustrations dip between cheeseburgers, french fries, hotdogs, pretzels, doughnuts and red velvet cakes which float next to Desmond Dekker, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Shabba Ranks and his other favourite reggae artists. This book "pays homage to the food he grew up eating, the sweets he tried to stay away from and the music he so lovingly listens to”. Published by @allyoucaneatpress, a Japanese run publishing house in Brooklyn, in 2017. Order here.
“The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries That Touch The Indian Ocean”. This new book was curated by Somali chef Hawa Hassan and food writer Julia Turshen, with photography shot on location by Khadija Farah and food photography by Jennifer May. In it “we meet women such as Ma Shara, who helps tourists “see the real Zanzibar” by teaching them how to make her famous Ajemi Bread with Carrots and Green Pepper; Ma Vicky, who now lives in suburban New York and makes Matoke (Stewed Plantains with Beans and Beef) to bring the flavor of Tanzania to her American home; and Ma Gehennet from Eritrea who shares her recipes for Kicha (Eritrean Flatbread) and Shiro (Ground Chickpea Stew)”. Order here.
A Memoir of Love, Migration and Food (published in 2009) by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who tells her family story of constant displacement from India to Uganda to the UK, and how “ the feeling of being settled has come not from putting down roots, but from taking up pot and sharing food that tastes and smells like home”. Family recipes are slotted throughout, always in context of colonialism with an explanation of where the foods and flavours come from. It’s an amazing book showing how food cannot be separated from its history, and learning to cook should come with learning of its routings.
20. Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture
Not exactly a cookbook but a book laying the very important groundwork for Fillipino cooking! And an oldie. Also referenced in Ruby Tandoh’s essay for In The Kitchen, which centres around this book and the intricacies of Filipino food when discussing flavour - “we don’t know where we’re going but we’ll feel our way there, in the process of becoming - tikim nam tikim”. ‘Sweetness’ cannot be categorised; it’s meaning “invisible perhaps to the non-native” of that land is different to different people. Tikim was published in 1994 by Doreen Fernandez who has since become one of the most celebrated writers on Fillipino food and culture. In it, she introduces readers to the history and nuances of Fillipino food through its people, places, feasts, and flavors. Some copies here.
21. Discover Senegalese Food with Chef Khadim
An online cookbook released on 25th January 2021 by the co-founder of Little BaoBab, a really great pop up restaurant doing Senegalese food and live music (when Covid ends book your tickets!)
A lockdown project? “For this cookbook I’ve worked to simplify the recipes and also to focus on the ingredients that are easily accessible outside of Senegal. So many of our friends and customers love Senegalese food and don’t know how easy it is to make these dishes. Many Senegalese people in the UK (especially my brothers here) miss our food from home. These recipes will provide the basis for the Senegalese dishes and you can add your own flair”.
They also do an amazing chilli sauce that you can buy on the website. (Gift set?) Order both here.
If you're interested in all things food, check out our free online event Spark Talks: For the Love of Food on 13th Feb 2021! Tara Rudd who wrote this piece and Riaz Phillips who was featured are amongst those who will be speaking. Book in advance here.
This piece was written by one of our Community Ambassadors, Tara Rudd, Content Creator and Food Activist. Find out more about Tara here.