In the Club

Eating in the Club- Cookbooks and Foodie Memoirs for Your Book Club

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

With the focus on food and drink that bookclubs — and by extension, this newsletter — I thought it’d be cool for a book club to have a session (or two) that focused on foodie memoirs, or just cookbooks. Food is such a big part of culture, and I think making recipes from the book a book club is reading is a way to engage with the reading in a more visceral way.

Below, I’ve got foodie memoirs, straight cookbooks, food histories, and more. But first, I want to share a recipe with y’all that had me in a vice grip this weekend.

Nibbles and Sips

braised tofu on a plate

Can I tell y’all about the best thing I have made in a minute? It was this braised pork belly, the recipe for which was provided by Quin on Butter Be Ready. I needed to go grocery shopping and only had some ramen on hand, so I decided to make it more legit with some pork belly like grown folks do. Let me just say that Quin’s recipe restructured my brain chemistry a bit.

It was so good, 1) I ate it all in one setting, and 2) I used the leftover braise liquid to braise some tofu the next day during my attempt at making dubu jorim, or Korean spicy braised tofu, which I had over rice. It was so good.

For the pork belly, I followed the instructions and ingredients outlined by Quin: I included the soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, garlic and ginger, five spice powder, and sesame oil. For the tofu, I added more garlic, onion, and gochugaru (Korean chili powder). The recipe called for plum extract, which I didn’t have, so I substituted it with a water + apple cider vinegar + sugar concoction Sarah Ahn included in the Instagram comments.

For a full list of ingredients and instructions for the pork belly, visit Butter Be Ready.

For a full list of ingredients and instructions for the braised tofu, visit ahnestkitchen on Instagram.

cover of Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant by Curtis Chin

Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant by Curtis Chin

This funny and insightful memoir follows Chin, a gay American-born Chinese kid growing up in Detroit in the ’80s. Though the city has its social issues, the Chinese restaurant his grandfather opened is a safe haven for many. All of Detroit — from drag queens to the city’s first Black mayor — are welcomed and gather around Chin’s family’s sweet-and-sour pork and scooch into their vinyl booths.

cover of Koshersoul by Michael W. Twitty; photo of Twitty, a Black man, wearing a yarmulke and sitting at a table surrounded by food

Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew by Michael W. Twitty

Here, James Beard award-winning author Twitty includes around 50 recipes that reflect his Black American and Jewish identities. He explores not only how to make the food from each culture, but also how the food influences the eater, and how the migratory experiences of both Jewish people and Black Americans is reflected in their cuisine.

cover of Dragtails: Fierce Cocktails Inspired by Drag Royalty

Dragtails: Fierce Cocktails Inspired by Drag Royalty by Greg Bailey, Alice Wood, illustrated by Ruth Moosbrugger

The cocktails here each reflect the ravishing drag queens that inspired them. Make a yellow and green “Sponge Queen” cocktail inspired by Monet X Change, an “Absolutely Alien” gin/lemonade number that has Juno Birch’s blue and pink look, and more. The illustrations here are also fab.

a graphic of the cover of Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts

Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks by Crystal Wilkinson

Food is so heavily tied to language and culture, and I always love reading about how the three are intertwined in Black American history. I think any other lover of history and food will appreciate how Wilkinson does that in this part memoir, part cookbook, as she writes out the history and fortitude of Black Appalachians through recipes passed down from the women in her family.

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**Below is an extended list for subscribers**

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