There is something about Southern cooking that seems very exclusive – either your kitchen produces an abundance of Southern-inspired meals, most often authentically influenced by your grandma’s cooking, or Southern cooking never makes into your weekly menus.

vegan-soul-kitchenVegan chefs (professional or beginner) know that taste and flavour come together to make up a huge part of what keeps their animal-free cuisine delicious and inspiring. But it doesn’t end there – vegans are often open to trying new cuisines,– often sampling new styles of cooking and ingredients to make cooking an everyday adventure.

Eco-chef Bryant Terry does just that in his book Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy and Creative African-American Cuisine. He combines old favourites with a fresh new look, without any animal ingredients to be seen.

Not just a cookbook, Bryant (whom we feel a camaraderie with as he leads us through the kitchen) calls Vegan Soul Kitchen “a succulent gumbo”, because it also contains memories and information, in addition to the recipes.

Many vegan cookbooks require processed ingredients and unhealthy ingredients, but you won’t find a speck of packaged products in this book. What you will find is flavour, in the form of high-quality, fresh ingredients, stemming straight from his African, Caribbean, and Memphis roots.

Drinks, salads, slaws, baked goods, and even condiments surround the many main and side dish recipes scattered throughout the book. Unlike most cookbooks, following an order of appetizers to dessert, Bryant highlights his top six favourite to get your palate started.

He delights all your senses with each recipe, all of which are complemented by their very own soundtrack. “Like a DJ being moved by the energy of the crowd to guide selections, I let the spirits of my ancestors and progeny move me to conjure up these edible treats.” And more than edible they are – he urges to substitute and add or omit to taste; to “freestyle” to your own needs. three-wise

But the soundtrack isn’t the only form of accompaniment. Each recipe flows along side selected art and books.

Take his Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Hot Pepper Sauce, for example. The soundtrack is “I.T.T., Pt. 2” by Fela Kuti, featured on The Best Best of Fela Kuti. The art is Kehinde Wiley’s “Three Wise Men Greeting Entry into Lagos”, a vibrant painting splashed with flavour. The books Bryant offers are How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney, and Graceland by Chris Abani. And still before the recipe, he offers a little extra information, such as his inspiration, and a few facts on black-eyed peas.

And he does this for each recipe.

We’ve tried a few of his dishes thus far, and the mixture of flavours, with ease of preparation while focusing on whole-foods based ingredients is a true highlight of Bryant’s well-written cookbook. Bryant Terry is an award-winning eco-chef, food justice activist, author and Food and Society Policty Fellow. He has also co-authored the cookbook: Grub: Idaes for an Urban Organic Kitchen. Visit his webiste: bryant-terry.com

Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry
$18.95
240 Pages
ISBN 978-0-7382-1228-9

Interested in veganism but not sure where to get started?

Check out our article Veganism and the planet, for info on how adopting an animal-free lifestyle doesn’t just benefit your health, but the environment, too.

For basic information about a vegetarian diet, check out the resources at the Vegetarian Resource Group.

Talk to other vegans and vegetarians over at the Veggie Forums, and explore the plethora of recipes at vegweb.com.

Image courtesy of villagevoice.com


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