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Cookbook of the Month June 2013: The Run-Off

greedygirl May 23, 2013 02:15 AM

Hello everyone! As you probably know, we have a dead heat for June so we'll be having a short run-off here.

As it was so close, I've decided to give you a third option, which is to do SOUL OF A NEW CUISINE in June and BURMA in July. Please vote for your preferred choice in the usual manner- and if there's a dead heat again, I shall have the casting vote (and I didn't vote at all in the previous thread).

Voting will last for just two days, closing on Saturday 25 May at 0800 GMT.

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  1. greedygirl RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 02:15 AM

    Vote here for:

    BURMA: RIVERS OF FLAVOR by Naomi Duguid

    1. greedygirl RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 02:16 AM

      Vote here for:

      SOUL OF A NEW CUISINE by Marcus Samuellson

      1. greedygirl RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 02:19 AM

        Vote here to do both books in consecutive months, which means:

        SOUL OF A NEW CUISINE in June
        BURMA in July

        This obviously means there will be no nomination process next month, for July.

        1. Njchicaa RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 02:59 AM

          No vote here as I'm not interested in either one. I really hope we don't wind up with one in June and one in July as that means I'll be out of the COTM loop until August. That would stink bc I have all of July off and plenty of time to cook.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Njchicaa
            juliejulez RE: Njchicaa May 23, 2013 09:01 AM

            Same here. Both books sound interesting but in the end I probably wouldn't do much with either one, so it would be a bummer to miss out on 2 months in a row.

          2. Gio RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 03:37 AM

            Have to confer with the committee about this one...

            1. jpr54_1 RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 04:46 AM

              I like the idea of doing one in consecutive months.
              Gives ppl a chance to buy book and look at recipes

              6 Replies
              1. re: jpr54_1
                sedimental RE: jpr54_1 May 23, 2013 05:27 AM

                Me too!

                These two books were a tough choice for me. I picked Soul the first round because i have been cooking a few of the online recipes from it and have been really impressed! But Burma sounds like it would be my kind of food too.

                It would be nice to do both. So often, the close second choice doesn't make it to finals next time, even though interest was so high, for some reason.

                1. re: jpr54_1
                  meatn3 RE: jpr54_1 May 23, 2013 11:44 AM

                  I think this is an idea to consider for the future. If we voted in month "a" for the book used in month "c" it would give people much more time to prepare.

                  I find that often it takes months to get the winning book from the library - I finally got Fish Without a Doubt two weeks ago! Sourcing ingredients can also become a journey which takes another chunk of time.

                  Speaking for my self I think I would participate more frequently if there was a "prep" month prior to the "participate" month.

                  Past COTM choices show consistent patterns: heavier/hearty foods for winter, produce focus for summer, Mexican for May, etc. The first month or so might catch people off guard but then folks would adapt.

                  1. re: meatn3
                    MelMM RE: meatn3 May 23, 2013 12:04 PM

                    But, neither of these are produce-focused, and we are talking about choosing a book for July. Which is why I am wary of choosing to do one of these now for July. They both have plenty of vegetable recipes, but not of the kind that uses up the kind of produce that we get in the summer where most of us live (US, Canada, and Europe).

                    I do understand what you are saying, and it might be nice to plan more than a couple weeks ahead. But I wonder if we would be able to really think that far ahead, and anticipate our needs and cravings that well.

                    1. re: MelMM
                      geekmom RE: MelMM May 23, 2013 01:38 PM

                      I tend to agree with you about not planning too far ahead for our COTM in order to allow us to choose a book that will be flexible enough for those of us who buy our produce seasonally and then are trying to figure out what to do with it.

                      1. re: MelMM
                        Njchicaa RE: MelMM May 23, 2013 05:12 PM

                        Again I'll say that I don't want to see these books back to back bc I don't have any interest in either of them. The summer is when I have the most time to cook. I'll be pretty angry if I can't participate in COTM until August based on this vote.

                        1. re: MelMM
                          meatn3 RE: MelMM May 23, 2013 11:07 PM

                          I guess my kitchen has pretty established seasonal rhythms. I tend to plan several months ahead in general. So I have a pretty good idea of what my time commitments and food focus will be. For instance July will be a huge canning month for me so new recipes of any other type will not stand a chance.

                          I totally get that not everyone comes from a similar perspective. But I do think that a look back over the prior years COTM does show that people gravitate towards specific themes at specific times of the year. With that information choosing 2 months out doesn't seem a insurmountable stretch to me.

                          Perhaps part of this is from being a buyer. In retail you know your seasons and customers buying patterns and you make the decisions well in advance. Kind of the old 80/20 rule...

                          But judging from the comments I seem to be in the minority!

                    2. q
                      qianning RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 05:13 AM

                      any of the above is really my preference; but just to be consistent I stuck with my original vote for Burma.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: qianning
                        dkennedy RE: qianning May 23, 2013 05:23 AM

                        I love the idea of doing one this month, one the next. Obviously, there is a lot of interest in both.

                        1. re: qianning
                          pavlova RE: qianning May 23, 2013 02:21 PM

                          Me too. I like the idea of cooking from both books, but I am often away in July, so I chose Burma for June, as I really don't want to miss it. I am picking up Soul today at the library anyway so I'm ready!

                        2. Allegra_K RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 05:22 AM

                          A tie, how exciting! This is a new one for me.

                          I'd be happy with either choice as well, but Burma seems to be where I'm headed these days with its relatively fuss-free recipes. I'd much rather be out smelling the flowers and enjoying the laughable amount of summer I get than spending too much time in the kitchen, roasting yuca and mashing plantains.

                          1. d
                            dkennedy RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 06:07 AM

                            I already have Soul, and I am really hoping for the two consecutive months option, but just in case, I just bought a copy of Burma. This way I am set if it gets selected this month, next month or somewhere down the line. I was really hoping to get it from the library, but I am 6th on the list so I figured even if it goes out a month there is a strong likelihood I won't get it in time. Vote for both, vote for both!!!

                            1. m
                              MelMM RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 06:15 AM

                              I'm going to lobby against deciding now to do one of these books in July. The reason is that neither book really features summer produce. I could cook from either of these in January and make pretty much everything. They both have plenty of vegetable and vegetarian dishes, but they tend to use produce that is either imported at any time of year (plantains), or is available during colder months (winter squash, dark greens). I'm afraid if we lock ourselves into one of these books now, we'll regret it in July when our CSA boxes are overflowing with zucchini.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: MelMM
                                dkennedy RE: MelMM May 23, 2013 07:06 AM

                                I respectfully disagree. Both books seem to have a lot of momentum behind them and both offer a great variety of healthy, light fare - grilled fishes, kebobs, etc. Moreover, there are quite a few vegetarian items offered in both books. While I see your point, my plan is to incorporate the summer harvest into my menu along with these very tasty menus. In addition, many of the veggies mentioned within recipes could easily be substituted for whatever is in our CSA boxes. I would hate to see either of these books go by the wayside when there is such a strong push for them right now.

                                1. re: dkennedy
                                  tcamp RE: dkennedy May 23, 2013 07:50 AM

                                  I'm glad to hear you say this because I, too, am especially interested in recipes that use up my CSA bounty in summer. I've requested Soul from the library and hopefully there are lots of veggie options within.

                                  1. re: dkennedy
                                    pikawicca RE: dkennedy May 23, 2013 02:25 PM

                                    I see no need to deviate from our usual practice. Locking in a second-place book for the next month strikes me as being a very bad precedent.

                                  2. re: MelMM
                                    biondanonima RE: MelMM May 23, 2013 08:52 AM

                                    I'm sitting this one out because I know I won't be able to actively participate again until September, but I agree with MelMM that deciding the July book now is a bad idea. Not only due to the cuisine-related issues that MelMM cites, but also because it's not really fair to people who may not be voting/participating this month but would like to in July.

                                    1. re: MelMM
                                      Breadcrumbs RE: MelMM May 23, 2013 04:47 PM

                                      I think it would be very difficult for me to commit to cooking from a particular book 2 months in advance.

                                      My nominations and votes are heavily influenced by what's going on in my life at the time. Sometimes my work/travel schedule is very heavy, sometimes life gets in the way etc.

                                      I also just really enjoy and look forward to the monthly nomination and voting process because everyone brings different ideas to the table and I learn about new books and folks experiences with them. It always interests me when a book that has been a hot contender one month often drops off the radar and then re-appears months later. I've come to think that's a reflection of how much our proposals and selections are reflective of our interests and lives at that moment. I also believe that most good and deserving books will have their time as a COTM..and that time will be when the mood for it strikes most of us...at the same time.

                                    2. d
                                      debbypo RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 06:49 AM


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: debbypo
                                        juliejulez RE: debbypo May 23, 2013 09:03 AM

                                        If you're voting you need to go above and click the "recommend" button for Burma, instead of posting :)

                                        1. re: debbypo
                                          delys77 RE: debbypo May 23, 2013 09:47 AM

                                          Hopefully debbypo comes back and clicks on the recommend button above, but if she doesn't hopefully we can count this as her intention is evident.

                                          Sorry, selfishly hoping Burma wins as I would like to participate and July will be tough for us with our wedding coming up in August.

                                        2. The Dairy Queen RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 07:10 AM

                                          I've been too inconsistent participation-wise to vote. But, I want to cook from both of these books, so I'm pulling up a chair and watching the excitement.


                                          1. greedygirl RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 06:01 PM

                                            In my defence, I thought it made sense to offer the third option since both of these books have nearly made it to COTM on at least two occasions. I certainly didn't mean to cause controversy, or make anyone cross. As it happens, it wouldn't suit me either to have the two books consecutively, as I own neither of them, but that's life!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: greedygirl
                                              dkennedy RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 06:17 PM

                                              I agree with you GG, I think it was a great idea. If the group doesn't like it, we won't do it, but if they do, we will. Either way, it is only two months, not a permanent change.

                                              Speaking of change, I un-bought Burma. Decided I don't need to own this one right now. Will read along from the sidelines (since it appears to be gaining steam). The comments on EYB did not persuade me that I would find this one to be a keeper, and my two other COTM purchases this year (Mex. Everyday and Every Grain of Rice) have left me underwhelmed.

                                              1. re: greedygirl
                                                MelMM RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 06:19 PM

                                                Please don't construe our discussion on the two-month option as criticism of your handling of this month's unusual situation. I don't think anyone believes you had any agenda apart from being as fair as possible.

                                                1. re: greedygirl
                                                  delys77 RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                  Please don't worry Greedygirl, I think it was a very creative suggestion. My preference is for Burma and another vote for July later on, but good on you for thinking outside the box.

                                                  1. re: greedygirl
                                                    Breadcrumbs RE: greedygirl May 24, 2013 02:17 AM

                                                    I admire the creativity of your suggestion gg, it never hurts to propose a new idea. I always enjoy the debates on the COTM thread and would only worry if they weren't happening. I love that we're a passionate, opinionated cooking-obsessed bunch!

                                                  2. L.Nightshade RE: greedygirl May 23, 2013 07:45 PM

                                                    I have to say, I am completely mystified by those who say they have no interest in either of these books. While I have supported SOANC, month after month, I think Burma sounds totally enticing also, it just hasn't been available in my library system.
                                                    Just tonight, I prepared another recipe from SOANC, and like the other dishes I have done from this book, it was simple, with easily acquired ingredients, and with flavors that were entirely compelling and different from anything I have previously cooked.
                                                    I find it a little depressing that the cookbook inspired by African culinary tastes (albeit modified by modern culinary knowledge and accesible techniques and ingredients) has failed to garner support month after month.

                                                    104 Replies
                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                      dkennedy RE: L.Nightshade May 23, 2013 08:00 PM

                                                      I agree LN. The idea of an African month has almost made it a few times, but always gets squeaked out in the end. I am hoping at some point enough people will get on board.

                                                      I also like the idea of Burma, it is just I am 6th on the waiting list for my library, and I can't rationalize adding another untested SE Asian cookbook to my collection right now. First need to break in Elephant Bar, Vietnamese Home Cooking, Seductions, etc. I rarely make use of my Asian Cookbooks, other than the occ. stir fry session (I have a built in wok burner) so I feel really guilty when I add another book to this particular shelf.

                                                      That is why I was so hoping for the two month in a row option for these two books. It would give me time to move up on the library wait list. Oh well, best laid plans, and all that.

                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                        juliejulez RE: L.Nightshade May 23, 2013 08:11 PM

                                                        I have no real interest in either because the other half of my household doesn't like "weird" food, and he also cannot eat a lot of foods because of a health condition. So, many of the books that are COTMs aren't possible for me unless I know if he's going to be traveling for work or the book is more "straightforward" type food, like Bistro Cooking at Home was. So far since I joined Chow last September I've only been able to participate in 2 of the COTMs. Thankfully for this last month, I knew ahead of time that he would be out of town so I could participate, and I also knew it would be a book I'd use frequently as I love Mexican food.

                                                        If I found an interesting recipe online for either of them I might go for that but I don't want to buy a book that I know wouldn't get much use in my house. I also don't have a big budget to buy a lot of ethnic ingredients that will only get used a few times. Mexican is easy because there's a mexican market in the nearest town and my normal grocery store has a large mexican section. Asian etc is a lot harder to source for me.

                                                        If SOANC wins I'll definitely read the threads because it does sound interesting. I think there's less interest in it too because there's not a lot of information about it available online, and a lot of folks don't even know what African cuisine is, myself included. So it's hard to commit to a cuisine you know nothing about.

                                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                                          L.Nightshade RE: juliejulez May 23, 2013 08:24 PM

                                                          I'm not sure what fits into the category of "weird" food, and I don't know what your partner's health conditions are. But I don't think either of these selections are "weird," and I suspect the recipes are as adaptable as any others to health restrictions.

                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                            juliejulez RE: L.Nightshade May 23, 2013 08:32 PM

                                                            "weird" ie not traditional american type food. He likes a limited amount of asian, but it's mostly the americanized asian stuff. For example, one time I tried to make a cauliflower casserole and it was very tasty, but he thought it was too "weird" and wished I had just used pasta...so you get an idea of what I'm working with :) He has Crohn's disease and a lot of seasonings and herbs really bother him. I'm still learning what all his triggers are but when he's home I try to stick more to what I know will work for him than risk him having stomach troubles all through the night because of something I made.

                                                            So yeah, when he's home I really can't experiment in the kitchen too much.

                                                            1. re: juliejulez
                                                              meatn3 RE: juliejulez May 23, 2013 09:10 PM

                                                              I have friends and family who are like your SO. I've learned it isn't worth it to try to expand/expose/whatever to foods outside their comfort zone. I end up somewhat frustrated, as they do too. Fortunately we have other aspects of life which bond us!

                                                              1. re: meatn3
                                                                juliejulez RE: meatn3 May 23, 2013 09:13 PM

                                                                Yeah, I sometimes try to do "riffs" on traditional stuff, sometimes he likes it sometimes he doesn't, but when I go too far outside of the box he's not into it. But, he's got plenty of other good qualities... like he's really cute ;) And, even if it's not to his liking he always thanks me for cooking dinner.

                                                                1. re: meatn3
                                                                  The Dairy Queen RE: meatn3 May 24, 2013 02:02 AM

                                                                  I think it would kill my soul if I had to eat traditional American fare day in and day out. We're a family -- sometimes I eat boring food for the sake of the rest of them. And, occassionally, they eat "weird" food for my sake.

                                                                  Thankfully, we don't have to cook every single meal for 30 days straight from the chosen COTM. if it's a "weird" month, you can just try, say, one recipe a week, and pick the least "weird" thing you can find from the book. If they don't like it, eh, too bad, they can suck it up for the night (and I get all of the leftovers for my lunches, yay!). But what if they do? We've had the occasional weird food surprise with COTM.


                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                    juliejulez RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 09:27 AM

                                                                    Well, that's you. I don't mind cooking and eating traditional American food most of the time. I don't find it "boring" as I try to find new ways to make it interesting enough to please me, but still "normal" enough to please him.

                                                                    I'm not a cookbook collector so when I buy a book, I want it to be one that I know I will actually use more than just a couple times. Neither of these are available at the library near my house.

                                                                    1. re: juliejulez
                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: juliejulez May 24, 2013 09:53 AM

                                                                      Of course, we all have different tastes and different ideas of what is considered "weird". Eye of the beholder (or mouth of the eater?), and all that.

                                                                      I know this is probably a little too random, but I'll bet you can easily sell at least Burma back via Amazon for about $7, free shipping. So, if you can find it used somewhere, you can use it for a month and return it.

                                                                      I know this because when I bought my used copy of Burma off of Amazon earlier today, it reminded me I could sell it back and that the net cost to me after selling it back would be about $7 (but that's based on the price I paid for the book. I don't know how many other cheap ones are out there...)

                                                                      So, it would be sort of like renting the book for a month. :)


                                                              2. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                lilham RE: L.Nightshade May 24, 2013 12:47 AM

                                                                I don't participate in COTM much. But I do read the reports from it, and sometimes cook the online recipes. It's more for the budget and space reason that I don't buy a lot of cookbooks. Also being in the UK, a lot of the US cookbooks are very expensive. We also have very different ethnic shops here. (Mexican is impossible, but South Asian and Chinese is fairly easy).

                                                            2. re: L.Nightshade
                                                              Breadcrumbs RE: L.Nightshade May 24, 2013 05:39 AM

                                                              I've been thinking about your post LN. I don't own SOANC. It hadn't been on my radar until it was mentioned as a COTM nomination.

                                                              I wonder if part of the issue is that there may be a general lack of understanding or context for the food? After all, Africa is a continent so folks may not be able to relate the cuisine to a dining experience at home.

                                                              I live in an ethnically diverse city but I can't think of any "African" restaurants. Ethiopian...of course, Moroccan - yup. I think folks tend to be more interested in and inquisitive about exploring a cuisine that's familiar to them. We see so many posts here on CH where folks are trying to replicate an amazing meal that they've enjoyed at a restaurant at home or, while travelling. I just wonder if it's the generality of this book that's throwing folks off and making the cuisine and book less relatable.

                                                              In reality, and understandably the cuisine of Africa is incredibly diverse. Modern African cuisine, has been influenced by so many other cultures. MS seems to cover a lot of ground in this book and while it's definitely of interest, I'd be even more excited if he did an Ethiopian book.

                                                              Also worth a mention is that in Canada it is a relatively expensive book. Not available new on Amazon.ca so at our biggest bookstore there's no pressure to offer a decent discount. The book is $30 and up new and, the same on Abes and Amazon for a used copy once shipping is included and you're dealing w a 5 star seller.

                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                The Dairy Queen RE: Breadcrumbs May 24, 2013 06:06 AM

                                                                Not to detract from your main point (which is, I think, that people might be more enthusiastic about cooking from cuisines they are familiar with), but I'm confused as to why you don't consider Ethiopian and Moroccan restaurants "African." They most certainly are.

                                                                I haven't paid much attention as to whether SOANC covers Moroccan cooking (I have other resources for that cuisine), but it certainly does cover Ethiopian food, among others.

                                                                For those of you who think this food might be "too weird" have a look at some of the recipes in the below links. They sound pretty delish to me, and not really too challenging from a diner's perspective:



                                                                Okay, some of these might be more challenging for those with sensitive palates:





                                                                Here's some sobering feedback from a woman who cooked 18 recipes from the book:


                                                                Here's a full list of the book's recipes according to EYB:

                                                                http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r... "Soul+of+a+New+Cuisine"


                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                  Breadcrumbs RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 06:14 AM

                                                                  I do consider them African TDQ, and that's my point. This isn't a book about the cuisine of a country. It's a book about the food of a continent. There are restaurants where people can try Ethiopian food or Moroccan food (though I don't imagine they are nearly as common as Mexican, Italian, Chinese or Japanese restaurants) and I expect if it were a country-specific book folks would more easily relate to it.

                                                                  African cuisine is very broad and folks may not have good context.

                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: Breadcrumbs May 24, 2013 06:17 AM

                                                                    Oh, okay, I get that. Sorry to be dense.

                                                                    I shall pour myself some more coffee now. :)


                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                      Breadcrumbs RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 06:18 AM

                                                                      Not at all TDQ, it is I who should have done a better job explaining myself. Save a cup for me!! ; )

                                                                    2. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: Breadcrumbs May 24, 2013 06:27 AM

                                                                      I was just going to add a little more here. I do think it's difficult to find cookbooks written for Western audiences for most specific African countries, with a few exceptions.

                                                                      The Twin Cities have the largest Somali population in the world (outside of Africa). Awhile back, I was in search of a Somali cookbook, just so I could relate to my neighbors a little more and be less intimidated eating in Somali restaurants and I found...exactly one.


                                                                      I see a lot of pan-African cookbooks as well as some focused on regional Cuisines, East or West Africa, but once you get beyond that, I think the pickings get a little slim.

                                                                      I have personal connections all over Africa: Somalia, Eqypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea... I don't mind an introduction to the cuisine of an entire continent.


                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                        herby RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 07:34 AM

                                                                        It is similar to Latin American situation - lots of cookbooks on Mexican food but try to find Peruvian or Chilean or Brazilian, etc. and the pickings are slim to none. That's why Grand Cuisina Latina is a great compendium - unfortunately not indexed by countries but who is perfect? :) And Indian cuisine while belonging to one country but is so diverse that might as well cover a continent.

                                                                        1. re: herby
                                                                          The Dairy Queen RE: herby May 24, 2013 07:39 AM

                                                                          Yes, excellent parallel.


                                                                          1. re: herby
                                                                            qianning RE: herby May 24, 2013 07:56 AM

                                                                            totally agree with those sentiments.

                                                                            1. re: herby
                                                                              qianning RE: herby May 24, 2013 08:05 AM

                                                                              My hunch is that there are more people out there who own "Burma" but don't own "SOANC", or who own both books than there are people who own "SOANC" but don't own "Burma".

                                                                              "Burma": got such a lot of press last year when it was released, I bet there are a lot of hardly opened books sitting out there waiting for an excuse.

                                                                              Post Script--this was supposed to be in reply to Herby's thread below....I really wish the Chow folks would find a patch for the firefox glitches....

                                                                              1. re: qianning
                                                                                L.Nightshade RE: qianning May 25, 2013 10:55 AM

                                                                                Funny, I would have guessed the opposite, as Burma is fairly new, and SOANC has been around for quite a while.

                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                              dkennedy RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 01:00 PM

                                                                              Why did I click on your amazon link?????? In my wish list cart it goes.

                                                                              1. re: dkennedy
                                                                                The Dairy Queen RE: dkennedy May 24, 2013 01:53 PM

                                                                                OK, I should really describe "Somali Cuisine" more thoroughly before anyone else buys it or wishes for it! it's a very slender, humble, rudimentary book with grainy photos. Almost the opposite of Samuelsson's book, in a way. Samuelsson's book is slick and glossy with a lot of stunning photography, probably carefully edited, that sort of thing.

                                                                                Somali Cuisine is one woman's attempt to document the recipes of her culture, which relies heavily on oral tradition. So, she overcame a lot to get these recipes on the page.

                                                                                Interesting tidbit, but Samuelsson has a connection to Minneapolis: he opened a (short-lived) outpost of Aquavit here (thinking, I guess, that all of the Scandinavians here would flock to it...)


                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                  Breadcrumbs RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 02:02 PM

                                                                                  You piqued my curiosity about Somali cuisine as well TDQ and since the book wasn't available at Amazon.ca I looked to see what info might be available on the www. I was pleasantly surprised to see some very interesting looking food blogs. Have you checked any of them out? I've never dined on Somali cuisine to know whether or not the dishes they are preparing appear authentic or not.

                                                                                  Here are three that looked promising:




                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: Breadcrumbs May 24, 2013 03:25 PM

                                                                                    Those blogs are all new since the time I was heavy into Somali research!


                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                      Breadcrumbs RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 03:34 PM

                                                                                      Well if you get a chance to look at them at some point TDQ, do let us know if you'd recommend any of them.

                                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                    dkennedy RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 02:03 PM

                                                                                    Thanks for all this info, TDQ. I'd be curious to hear about your experience cooking out of the Somali Cookbook referenced above. I really know very little about the various cuisines of Africa and Soul was my first dip in the water, so to speak.

                                                                                    I have loved reading it from cover to cover and I also loved the few dishes I have made out of it so far. The only other cookbooks that I have that have any African dishes in them are Street Food (which I LOVE) and a Kwanza Cookbook. Both also are fascinating reads.

                                                                                    I am not ready to add another cookbook to my shelf today (trying to stay on the wagon) but this one certainly sounds up my alley. Again, thanks.

                                                                                    1. re: dkennedy
                                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: dkennedy May 24, 2013 03:42 PM

                                                                                      Honestly, I haven't cooked much from it, but, again, I've read it all. I've made the sambusa and the watermelon drink. I think there's a tea recipe I've made, too, that doesn't sound that grand, except that tea is very important culturally, so I've had a lot of tea out at restaurants. I think there's a cookie in there that I've made, too.

                                                                                      I can't recall how much of this is in "Somali Cuisine" or more from my other research but the striking thing about Somali cuisine is that it has heavy Italian, British and French influences. So, Somalis cook with pasta and marinara sauce. And butter and cream (in their "injera" for instance, which is called canjera.) The Italians also raised bananas for export while they were in Somalia. So, bananas are now a big part of the Somali diet. Goat is a huge favorite. And since nearly all Somalis are Muslim, all the food must be Halal. No pork, no alcohol (not even vanilla extract). Fish is always Halal and since Somalia is right on the Horn of Africa there, there's a lot seafood for the folks who live on the coast. They were a trading port for centuries, so they cook with a lot of interesting spices.


                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                        dkennedy RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 03:49 PM

                                                                                        See I've already learned a ton just reading your report. I am looking up sambusa now....

                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy
                                                                                          The Dairy Queen RE: dkennedy May 24, 2013 06:18 PM

                                                                                          Most of that info was gleaned from talking to many, many people. Very little of it is in SOANC or any book for that matter. Such is the nature of a people with a strong oral tradition.


                                                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                          dkennedy RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 03:53 PM



                                                                                          We call this borekas. I am Sephardic, and a large chunk of my family now live in South Africa, though I've never been. I think my Sephardic culture is part of why I am so drawn to all the flavors and snacks from the African continent. It is all very familiar to me.

                                                                                          1. re: dkennedy
                                                                                            The Dairy Queen RE: dkennedy May 24, 2013 06:15 PM

                                                                                            Yes, borekas are pretty much the same thing!


                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                        MelMM RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 02:18 PM

                                                                                        Don't feel bad on my account, TDQ. When I find a single-nation African book I buy it. Some of these are more like pamphlets, and that's OK with me. I'm not one of those people who needs cookbooks to be beautiful or have lots of pictures (or any pictures). I just like to have the books for reference. When I need to know something, I'll look it up, and it doesn't matter at all how pretty the book is.

                                                                                        1. re: MelMM
                                                                                          The Dairy Queen RE: MelMM May 24, 2013 03:28 PM

                                                                                          Funny! I almost described "Somali Cuisine" as barely a notch up from a pamphlet!


                                                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                          L.Nightshade RE: The Dairy Queen May 25, 2013 11:20 AM

                                                                                          That book is pretty expensive! Have you cooked from it?

                                                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                                            The Dairy Queen RE: L.Nightshade May 25, 2013 11:43 AM

                                                                                            Only a little. I go into specifics here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9029...


                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                              L.Nightshade RE: The Dairy Queen May 25, 2013 11:48 AM

                                                                                              Thanks, I must have missed that post. Love sambusas!

                                                                                  3. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                    juliejulez RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                                                    Thanks for the links TDQ. I did a bit of searching last night and came up with a few of those, but they just don't appeal to me. For example, the glutenfree girl one... I don't think I've ever seen Kabocha squash in my normal store, and I wouldn't know where to get sorghum flour or xanthan gum other than ordering online I'm guessing those were changes she made to make it gluten free? Either way, that's sort of what I was talking about with my previous post... I just can't afford to buy ingredients that will be used once or twice then just take up pantry space after that.

                                                                                    I also ran across the 2nd link, the CBS news one. The only recipe on there that appealed to me was the red penne, but what really makes that African? The harissa?

                                                                                    I don't know, I'm really feeling like some folks here are trying to make others feel guilty or like lesser cooks because they're not interested in trying either of these two books. I don't like that at all.

                                                                                    1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                      MelMM RE: juliejulez May 24, 2013 09:58 AM

                                                                                      That Apple-Squash Fritter recipe from Gluten-Free Girl has been altered, in part to be gluten-free, but also the kind of squash called for is different.

                                                                                      In the book, it calls for butternut squash. There is all-purpose flour and cornstarch in the recipe, no hard-to-find flours or xanthan gum.

                                                                                      I think a lot of African food is actually quite familiar for Americans, at least if you are from the South like I am, they just don't realize it. Southern food was so heavily influenced by African ingredients and techniques, that it is easy to look back across the pond and see the similarities. So you'll find lots of stewed greens, black-eyed peas, okra. Whether or not that would work for you and your husband, only you can say. I would say that between the two books under consideration, SOANC probably has the most recipes that would look and taste familiar to an American.

                                                                                      1. re: MelMM
                                                                                        The Dairy Queen RE: MelMM May 24, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                                                        Oh that's very interesting! Especially since in at least one of the reviews I linked to they commented that they didn't have to go out of their way to hunt down any specialized ingredients.

                                                                                        Maybe that GFG link is a little misleading!


                                                                                      2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                        The Dairy Queen RE: juliejulez May 24, 2013 10:01 AM

                                                                                        You know, if the recipes don't appeal to you, there's no reason to force yourself to make an investment of time, money and calories to make these particular dishes.

                                                                                        I don't think anyone is trying to make anyone feel guilty or lesser.

                                                                                        I personally provided those links to give people a sense of what the recipes are really like. I was kind of surprised by the gal who cooked 18 recipes from the book...

                                                                                        RE: Kabocha squash, I would just go for whatever winter squash worked for you (butternut?), but it's out of season now anyway, right? But, yeah, I don't have sorghum flour or xantham gum in my cupboard, either. But, I am fortunate to have local access to them if I need them...


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                          The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 12:07 PM

                                                                                          Sorry I provided these links, obviously not welcome. I think I'll just take the summer off as I'm clearly out of sync. I guess I'll sell my copy of Burma back to Amazon. LOL! Sorry to disrupt. Happy COTM'ing everyone.


                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                            pikawicca RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 01:00 PM

                                                                                            I was actually interested to read the review by a person who had cooked 18 recipes from SoANC. I only made 5 or 6 before sending it off to the Red Cross book sale.

                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                              The Dairy Queen RE: pikawicca May 24, 2013 01:31 PM

                                                                                              Thanks pika. It seems like you only needed to cook 1/3 of the recipes that woman did in order to arrive at the same conclusion!

                                                                                              I'm having a tough day. I think I'm just going to sit on the sofa with a bag of chips for awhile.


                                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                              L.Nightshade RE: The Dairy Queen May 25, 2013 11:20 AM

                                                                                              Oh, what? I'm pleased you provided the links. Thanks!

                                                                                          2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                            delys77 RE: juliejulez May 24, 2013 10:37 AM

                                                                                            Hi juliejulez, I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm sure that wasn't anyone's intention.

                                                                                            I have to say I was a little thrown by your comment about "weird" foods, but I put it in the context that you were talking about your partner and moved on from it.

                                                                                            I'm hoping the same has happened with you, where some of the posters choice of words has resulted in you feeling a little put off. Let's all remember that communication is nuanced and offence is rarely intended in this hallowed forum.

                                                                                            1. re: delys77
                                                                                              juliejulez RE: delys77 May 24, 2013 10:44 AM

                                                                                              Yeah I shouldn't have used weird, as I don't think they're weird, but he does...that's why I put the quotes around it. I guess just "different than he's used to" would have been a better choice of words. :)

                                                                                              1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                delys77 RE: juliejulez May 24, 2013 11:06 AM

                                                                                                Possibly, but again, I think it is always best to assume someone is coming from a good place when reading written communications.

                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                  geekmom RE: juliejulez May 24, 2013 11:59 AM

                                                                                                  juliejulez, I just wanted to say that i understood exactly what you meant when you said "weird" food because my parents view food in a very similar way - there's the food they like, and then there's everything else which, for them, is weird. I completely understand the careful balance between trying new flavours and foods that you personally are interested in, and making the other diner(s) happy. I do have to give my dad & his wife credit for at least trying some of the new foods I introduce to them, but most things that are unfamiliar to them get "Oh... that's *different*... VERY *different*... Have you got any bread?"

                                                                                                  1. re: geekmom
                                                                                                    L.Nightshade RE: geekmom May 25, 2013 11:08 AM

                                                                                                    On the other hand, would you want to confine the COTM only to books that your parents would like? I think if you are an adventurous eater, you might try some new things, just not try them out on your less adventurous friends and family!

                                                                                                    ETA: I know you don't want to limit choices to what picky family will eat, I was using the word "you" in general terms.

                                                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                                                      geekmom RE: L.Nightshade May 26, 2013 08:39 AM

                                                                                                      No, of course not! My intention was to show juliejulez that she's not the only person who cooks for someone who thinks that unusual-to-them foods are "weird", not to suggest that COTM should be more restricted (and I think my voting & participation in COTM so far should demonstrate how I feel about trying unusual cuisines & ingredients -- grin). In my case, my father is only a frequent visitor, rather than someone I actually live with, so it's a lot easier for me to just adapt my cooking when he's around; it would be quite tough if he was always here.

                                                                                              2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                Gio RE: juliejulez May 24, 2013 11:12 AM

                                                                                                Julie, please don't feel that you're a lesser cook than any of us! There have been plenty of months I just didn't want to cook from or didn't like the COTM. I either just read along, or cooked from different books. There are many past COTMs that are there to read through and cook from... also, this is supposed to be FUN. We cook When we want and What we want!

                                                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                                                  Njchicaa RE: Gio May 24, 2013 11:39 AM

                                                                                                  Exactly. It is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. If the book(s) don't sound interesting or the food yummy, we are free to NOT participate. That doesn't make a person close-minded or whatever. IMO it is smart to not spend your time and money on something you don't think you'll enjoy.

                                                                                                  Next month I'll just try new recipes from books I already own. =)

                                                                                                  1. re: Gio
                                                                                                    L.Nightshade RE: Gio May 25, 2013 11:05 AM

                                                                                                    Yes, this. It's not about who is a better cook, it's about cooking together and having fun. There is always going to be someone who is not interested in the month's selection, and it's fine to sit out a month. I tend to want to push the envelope a bit, try new and different cuisines. So for example, this last month I haven't gotten very involved with the Bayless book. I've cooked and eaten tons of Mexican food, having lived nearer to that border for a few years. So I thought this book was rather tame and not too authentic. I tried a few dishes, but they just didn't appeal, so I haven't done any more. I think there was one other month where the book had no appeal for me, and I just sat it out.

                                                                                                  2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                    LulusMom RE: juliejulez May 26, 2013 07:57 AM

                                                                                                    Don't feel that way for one second. If you don't want to cook from a book, skip it. Your choice.

                                                                                                  3. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                    gingershelley RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 01:14 PM

                                                                                                    Thanks for the links TDQ to help us all "get our heads around' Marcus' book a little more....

                                                                                                    Gluten Free Girl's moving comments about the book and recipes really had my attention. I would gladly look at this book again in the early fall :)

                                                                                                    I can see I have things to learn about from it - I just can't get a hold of it from my library yet. I have made a purchase request.

                                                                                                    1. re: gingershelley
                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: gingershelley May 24, 2013 01:34 PM

                                                                                                      Very kind of you, gs. I'm not trying to persuade anyone one way or the other. I really haven't cooked much from SOANC (even though I own it, though to be honest, I don't really know where my copy is at the moment), though I've read all of it. Haven't cooked from Burma at all.


                                                                                                  4. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                    MelMM RE: Breadcrumbs May 24, 2013 08:08 AM

                                                                                                    Thought I should jump in here with a few thoughts on SOANC and why it isn't quite catching on. I think, BC, that you have a very good point about the book being a bit too broad to really resonate with many readers. It's hard to feel that you are taking an in-depth look at any one country. I like to have cookbooks from everywhere (armchair traveller), and Africa is no exception. But it is hard to find cookbooks that focus on an individual country or even region. Northern African nations have been very well covered by cookbook authors, both as a group and individually, and there are some Ethiopian books available, but there is a lot more of Africa that is ignored, or all the countries are lumped together in a compilation, and you don't get enough detail to really feel like you are understanding any one of them.

                                                                                                    The organization of SOANC makes this problem even worse than in other books, because the dishes are organized by traditional courses/categories, not by country, and even the index does not list dishes by country. So while I know there are Ethiopian dishes in the book, if I look up Ethiopia in the index there is no entry. Nor does Samuelsson put the country of origin in or next to or below the recipe name. Other African cookbooks that I have may share the problem of being overly broad in scope, but they all make it easier to find recipes from a particular country if that is your goal.

                                                                                                    Oh, and thanks, TDQ for the link to the Somali cookbook. I hit "one-click" without hesitation for that one!

                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                      debbiel RE: MelMM May 24, 2013 08:20 AM

                                                                                                      I do wish he had identified countries in the introduction to recipes, recognizing that many recipes would be inspired by multiple countries.

                                                                                                      One thing I like about the book (and I've just started reviewing it) is that it does seem to show the breadth of cuisineS in Africa. It seems like lots of folks envision the continent, massive as it is, as homogenous when it comes to cultures, including cuisines. I like that he talks about varying influences on cuisines in varying parts of the continent.

                                                                                                      1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                        TxnInMtl RE: MelMM May 24, 2013 02:12 PM

                                                                                                        I got the impression that one of the reasons he doesn't organize by country (or even region) is this book is more his interpretation of African food rather than traditional country or regional recipes. I think that's part of why I haven't been able to get into this book despite trying. It just doesn't feel authentic to me and often the dishes seem bland for what I would expect.

                                                                                                        I haven't been commenting on the nomination and voting threads because I haven't had time lately to participate in COTM and I've hesitated to comment on SOANC because I would really like to hear other people's experience with the book. At this point, I've tried at least 8 recipes and while some have been good, there's nothing that's justified the cost of the book (or moving it from Canada to the US) and some recipes have just been a disappointment. I made the doro wett with lentil stew and injera last week and the doro wett just flat. And no wonder. He calls for 1 tbsp of Berbere whereas other recipes I've seen online call for 1/4 cup or more for the same amount of chicken. I'd really like to find a good African book and learn more about the cuisine, but SOANC just isn't the one for me.

                                                                                                        1. re: TxnInMtl
                                                                                                          emily RE: TxnInMtl May 24, 2013 05:42 PM

                                                                                                          I've heard similar reports about the book, which is why I'm not that interested - the recipes aren't that authentic, they're not that great and they're also "cheffy".

                                                                                                          1. re: TxnInMtl
                                                                                                            L.Nightshade RE: TxnInMtl May 25, 2013 11:23 AM

                                                                                                            That's amazing. The berbere I use is so spicy, I couldn't put 1/4 cup in anything. It must be a difference between different blends.

                                                                                                          2. re: MelMM
                                                                                                            pikawicca RE: MelMM May 24, 2013 06:27 PM

                                                                                                            If people want to do an African cookbook at some point, I recommend "Mourad New Moroccan," wildly and without reservation. The pinenut/caper dip alone is worth the price of admission (I put it on everything). Plus, I had the most fun explaining to a crusty old guy at Lowe's that the angled, natural bristle paint brush I was searching for was not for painting, but for making an African pastry. Love this book!

                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                              MelMM RE: pikawicca May 24, 2013 06:52 PM

                                                                                                              I have Mourad, and I think it is a very interesting book, but Morocco is one of the few parts of Africa that has been well covered by other authors (Paula Wolfert, for one). I am really much more interested in exploring the sub-Saharan parts of the continent, which are more neglected, cookbook-wise.

                                                                                                              1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                pikawicca RE: MelMM May 24, 2013 06:54 PM

                                                                                                                Mourad is not Paula Wolfert's Moroccan. And I think that there are very good reasons why there are not many cookbooks dealing with sub-Saharan African cooking.

                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                  MelMM RE: pikawicca May 24, 2013 07:33 PM

                                                                                                                  I agree that Mourad is not like a Wolfert book. My point is that compared to the rest of Africa, there are a lot of books that cover Morocco. Northern Africa in general is well covered, at least compared to the rest of the continent. Good reasons why sub-Saharan Africa is not covered? I'm not sure I get that. What good reasons? I can think of some good reasons why it should be, especially for Americans in the Southern US.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                    pikawicca RE: MelMM May 25, 2013 08:00 AM

                                                                                                                    The recipes from sub-Saharan Africa that I've found (there are many online) are fairly monotonous, with exceptions, of course. Lots and lots of starches and stews, the kind where you can cook everything in one pot without having to pay much attention to it, sort of like crockpot cooking. I have, however, made some terrific breads -- I especially like the Somali sourdough millet bread that resembles injeera. I could easily get into a month of African bread baking.

                                                                                                                    Haven't tried the more interesting recipes from coastal regions, simply because the ingredients are unavailable to me.

                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                      debbiel RE: pikawicca May 25, 2013 08:48 AM

                                                                                                                      I suppose part of the issue for me in trying to talk about this is that there is no sub-Saharan African cuisines. There are multiple regional cuisines within sub-Saharan Africa. Cuisines that vary quite dramatically, it seems to me. Those crock pot style dishes will have quite different flavors depending on where in sub-Saharan Africa the recipe is coming from.

                                                                                                                      I'd actually be interested in learning more about the differences across cuisines in that large part of the world, and to explore the different ways and extent that influences from other regions of the world have been incorporated into the regional and local cuisines.

                                                                                                                      And also I now quite find myself wanting some groundnut stew. Might be just the ticket for this chilly day.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                        pluralofcow RE: pikawicca May 26, 2013 02:50 AM

                                                                                                                        I've been reading this post with some interest this morning--I have missed the last few COTMs due to near constant work travel, but I have always been following along even if I didn't have a kitchen to participate from!

                                                                                                                        I have spent a significant portion of my adult life in various African countries, and I'm in Mozambique this week. I wouldn't say that sub-Saharan food is monotonous, but I do think there is a lack of good English-language recipes out there, and many of the books that have been published for the non-African audience make so many substitutions (either because ingredients are difficult to acquire or to account for the perceived tastes of a non-African audiences) that you lose a lot of what makes African food great. I've managed to find really spectacular and unique dishes in each of the ~20 African countries I've worked in--though the daily meals of an average working class family may be bland and uninteresting due to a lack of means rather than desire or talent. Even though Nigeria and Ghana are geographically close together there are a lot of differences in the cuisines of those two countries--the same can be said for Senegal and Mali or Uganda and Tanzania, etc. At the same time there are some common threads to cooking of coastal West Africa or the Sahel just as there are commonalities between Libyan and Moroccan cuisines or Thai and Lao cooking.

                                                                                                                        Part of the problem is that people in the west (generally) conceive of Africa as a country rather than as a continent of stunning ethnic diversity. So it is difficult to market a cookbook on Congolese or Ghanaian cooking outside of the diaspora and it is easier to sell an "African" cookbook. But there are certain trade offs in making the generalizations necessary to offer a cookbook covering an entire continent (the reference to an "Indian cookbook" I think is a good one). I like Samuelsson's book and reading it I do see a lot of authenticity in some of the recipes, while others seem to be more of a riff on an idea or a grouping of ingredients. There are several African cuisines that I could see gaining popularity, but they need an international ambassador who can write a shiny cookbook and retain the authenticity of the cuisine without compromising its accessibility. And that has not happened as yet. I find most of my best African recipes either through friends and colleagues or on blogs. But I'm also lucky to live in a city with a lot of African immigrants (Ethiopian, Liberian, Nigerian Ghanaian and Tanzanian among others), so I don't even need to cook African food often in order to eat plenty of it!

                                                                                                                        1. re: pluralofcow
                                                                                                                          L.Nightshade RE: pluralofcow May 26, 2013 10:10 AM

                                                                                                                          So very well articulated pluralofcow! Thanks for your informative and thoughtful post.

                                                                                                                    2. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                      delys77 RE: pikawicca May 24, 2013 08:18 PM

                                                                                                                      Sorry but I'm not sure I understand what you mean by good reasons for the lack of sub Saharan African books.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                        debbiel RE: pikawicca May 25, 2013 07:53 AM

                                                                                                                        I am with others on not understanding what would be the good reasons for a lack of books on sub-Saharan African cooking.

                                                                                                                        I love much of the northern African cuisine I have had, but it is more familiar, more accessible. If we were going to focus in on a regional or national cuisine in Africa, I would prefer something else.

                                                                                                                  2. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                    L.Nightshade RE: MelMM May 25, 2013 11:14 AM

                                                                                                                    That is a good point. And if you search the book in EYB using the "ethnicity" filter, there are very few recipes that show up by country, most show up as African.
                                                                                                                    I haven't used the book yet in that fashion, to say "I'm going to cook Ethiopian food tonight, I need to pull up Ethiopian recipes." I used it more to search for ingredients. I had spinach and cabbage in the fridge, searched those in the book, and came up the a wonderful dish with buttermilk, ginger, and turmeric, using those two vegetables.
                                                                                                                    I can see that if I wanted to do a Somali dinner, it would be hard to search the book. But he does tell about origins in the intros, and it's a good introduction to various African cuisines. Yes, he does adapt to Western cooking, and his chef perspective. But doesn't Ottolenghi do that also?

                                                                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: L.Nightshade May 25, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                                                                                      You know, I think part of the difference is that nearly every Ottolenghi recipe is guaranteed to be a winner. Not so, I fear, with SOANC. (pikawicca, for instance, ditched her copy of SOANC after trying half a dozen recipes...)

                                                                                                                      As far as why aren't there more cookbooks oriented for Western audiences for subsaharan African countries, I think part of it has to do with the fact that many of the countries in that region have very strong oral cultures.

                                                                                                                      And they've also been in the midst, off and on, of famines, civil wars, contentious/violent elections, etc. off and on over the years.

                                                                                                                      I think the cookbooks-for-Western-audiences will eventually materialize, maybe after several decades, whenever there is a diaspora out to Western nations. But even that will take time because the first couple of generations of refugees have more to worry about than writing cookbooks, finding shelter, employment, learning the language, and so on.

                                                                                                                      Until that happens, it will take a Wolfert-like-person to devote themselves to exploring and documenting the cuisine. I think Samuelsson just did a high-level overview of typical dishes that he thought he could interpret and introduce to Western palates.


                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                        L.Nightshade RE: The Dairy Queen May 25, 2013 11:31 AM

                                                                                                                        Yes, agreed on all your points. I do like the book, as it offers an introduction to the various African dishes. And I've not had a dud yet!

                                                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                                                                          The Dairy Queen RE: L.Nightshade May 25, 2013 11:41 AM

                                                                                                                          That's reassuring (about the no-duds!)

                                                                                                                          I came back to post the OTHER major (and perhaps most important) difference between Samuellson and Ottolenghi is that Samuellson grew up in Sweden, with Swedish (not Ethiopian) parents, whereas Ottolenghi actually grew up in the region. Samuelsson grew up culturally as a Swede and is as unfamiliar with African cuisine as many most Westerners.


                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                            L.Nightshade RE: The Dairy Queen May 25, 2013 12:30 PM

                                                                                                                            That's a true point. But, I don't think Paula Wolfert was born in Morocco. And we certainly take her word on Moroccan food!

                                                                                                                            I won't argue however, that SOANC is completely authentic. It's influenced by western cooking and by a chef's perspective.

                                                                                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                                                                              The Dairy Queen RE: L.Nightshade May 25, 2013 04:49 PM

                                                                                                                              Oh, Wolfert is in an entirely different league in terms of the commitment and research she's put into Moroccan cuisine. I wasn't really comparing her to Ottolenghi and Samuellson...


                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                L.Nightshade RE: The Dairy Queen May 25, 2013 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                I agree re different league. I was just saying that someone doesn't need to be born in a country to be an expert on the cuisine.

                                                                                                                  3. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                    L.Nightshade RE: Breadcrumbs May 25, 2013 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                    Breadcrumbs - I understand your point, and I would certainly love to do a month of Somali cuisine, or a month of Ethiopian cuisine. (Actually I'd love to find a cookbook about food from Reunion Island, where the food is an amazing mash-up of Asian, African, and French.) But I don't think there are many books for those countries that are widely available and recommended. Actually I would have thought that the people dealing with families with unadventurous eaters, and possibly feeling wary of difficult to find ingredients, would be more attracted to a book with a broader base, and some adaptations for non-African cooks.

                                                                                                                    I wasn't aware that the book was not readily available in Canada, or at least not at a reasonable price, as I don't recall that being mentioned as an issue. I certainly understand that drawback, as I am confining myself to books available at the library, if I don't already own them.

                                                                                                                  4. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                                                                    herby RE: L.Nightshade May 24, 2013 05:49 AM

                                                                                                                    I am mystified as to why I am the only person who voted for SOANC in this run-off vote.


                                                                                                                    1. re: herby
                                                                                                                      dkennedy RE: herby May 24, 2013 06:00 AM

                                                                                                                      I think the rest of us voted for both so that is why you only see one vote under just SOANC.

                                                                                                                      1. re: herby
                                                                                                                        Gio RE: herby May 24, 2013 06:01 AM

                                                                                                                        I noticed that Herby and I think it's because the possibility of cooking from "Soul" was given in the combination vote...

                                                                                                                        I haven't voted yet because I honestly don't know what to do even after conferring with my partner-in-cooking. I'd like to cook from "Soul" but I don't like locking myself into a 2 month vote. Probably that's why some folks voted for the 2 month deal. The possibility of finally cooking from SOANC.

                                                                                                                        So here I sit. Burma has an enormous lead. It's hard to think "Soul" will catch up at this late date.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                          herby RE: Gio May 24, 2013 07:27 AM

                                                                                                                          I do not think many people are interested in choosing for two months and I find it most puzzling that those people did not vote for "Soul" on its own as opposed to two-month-deal.

                                                                                                                          My library has a long waiting list for Burma, at least that was the case a few months ago and I have not checked again recently. Also reviews by people who tried some recipes have not been too enticing. Oh well, another month to sit out....

                                                                                                                          1. re: herby
                                                                                                                            The Dairy Queen RE: herby May 24, 2013 07:32 AM

                                                                                                                            According to EYB, there are about 30 Burma recipes available online. (And I'll bet there are many more out there unofficially on blogs if you cut and paste recipe titles from EYB and google them), so I hope you do cook along for at least a couple of recipes, should Burma win, which I suspect it will as of now. I know it's not the same as "having the book" of course, but I have to confess, I've been cooking almost exclusively from online recipes that I've imported into pepperplate lately, even from books I own. I just find having the recipes all in one place with the fantastic grocery list feature super helfpul right now.


                                                                                                                            I just snapped up a pretty cheap used copy of Burma on Amazon, so I'm good to go, but I completely understand your point that the book is in high demand at the library.


                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                              sedimental RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2013 07:54 AM

                                                                                                                              I kept telling myself I would not buy another cookbook! I just bought Burma, new, from Amazon (prime) for 21 bucks and free shipping. Sigh.

                                                                                                                            2. re: herby
                                                                                                                              sedimental RE: herby May 24, 2013 08:01 AM

                                                                                                                              I am one of those people that voted for both instead of just Soul. My perspective is that I liked both of them almost equally, so it is not a "loss" either way. I am guessing that others voting like I did felt the same way....a bit of a toss up really, with only a slight preference for Soul...and/or no aversion to Burma.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sedimental
                                                                                                                                debbiel RE: sedimental May 24, 2013 08:16 AM

                                                                                                                                I voted for both SOANC in the original vote. I voted for the two-month option in this thread because it seemed like a creative and good solution to me. I think, though, that I may change my vote back. I have SOANC now. I really don't think I'll buy Burma at this point. I just have got to stop buying books for a bit, and I have several other cookbooks I'm eager to cook regularly from.

                                                                                                                                I do think it's odd that after a dead heat, Burma is now running away with it. Are all the TGI folks voting for Burma, too?

                                                                                                                                1. re: debbiel
                                                                                                                                  sedimental RE: debbiel May 24, 2013 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                                  Well, at least there seems to be more free, online recipes for Burma than for SOANC. I probably should have bought SOANC and not Burma instead of the opposite. Oh well.

                                                                                                                                  I was just excited to finally see 2 books I actually want to cook from for the month. I don't follow COTM regularly when the book is not an interest to me. It will be nice to get to participate this time :)

                                                                                                                              2. re: herby
                                                                                                                                Westminstress RE: herby May 24, 2013 02:07 PM

                                                                                                                                My library had a very long waiting list for Burma a few months ago but bought more copies ... Now there is no wait. Maybe yours did the same?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Westminstress
                                                                                                                                  L.Nightshade RE: Westminstress May 25, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                  Yes, I think it's more in demand. Our library had no copies when the discussion began. Now they have two, and I'm first in line for one of them.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Westminstress
                                                                                                                                    herby RE: Westminstress May 25, 2013 02:09 PM

                                                                                                                                    Unfortunately not; still the same number of books (6) and a long line-up (30+).

                                                                                                                                    1. re: herby
                                                                                                                                      L.Nightshade RE: herby May 25, 2013 02:13 PM

                                                                                                                                      Ugh. I've got the book until 6/15, if you want me to paraphrase or email something that appeals.

                                                                                                                              3. re: herby
                                                                                                                                L.Nightshade RE: herby May 24, 2013 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                In all honesty, at the time I voted, SOANC had no votes at all, and it at least had a few in the combination option. So that's where I added my vote.

                                                                                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                                                                                  geekmom RE: L.Nightshade May 24, 2013 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                                  Same here - by the time I got a chance to check the thread, there were an equal number of votes for "Burma" only, and for the "cook both for two months" option. I don't want to lock in to two months of cookbooks right now, so I added my vote to Burma. Originally I voted for TGI because my daughter asked me to but I had intended to vote for Burma anyway.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                                                                                                    MelMM RE: L.Nightshade May 24, 2013 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                    I am torn between Burma and SOANC... hard to say which I prefer. But I didn't want the two-month option.

                                                                                                                                    I would be willing - happy even - to change my vote to SOANC, by itself, if some of the two-month voters changed as well, and maybe we could get enough support to turn the tide. I have a feeling that Burma is likely to reappear as a COTM candidate, but it might be now or never for SOANC.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                                      Gio RE: MelMM May 24, 2013 12:53 PM

                                                                                                                                      So goes COTM, so goes the nation... LOL

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                        dkennedy RE: Gio May 24, 2013 01:04 PM

                                                                                                                                        Changed mine too.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy
                                                                                                                                          sedimental RE: dkennedy May 24, 2013 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                                          Me three....

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                          smtucker RE: Gio May 24, 2013 02:13 PM

                                                                                                                                          I am considering heading to Dixville Notch!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                                            dkennedy RE: smtucker May 24, 2013 02:19 PM

                                                                                                                                            Should we all gather there at midnight?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: dkennedy
                                                                                                                                              herby RE: dkennedy May 24, 2013 02:26 PM

                                                                                                                                              I am in, see you all there :)

                                                                                                                                            2. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                                              qianning RE: smtucker May 24, 2013 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                              Oh you crack me up. But remember, in NH we are more famous for our primaries than our general elections.

                                                                                                                                              Isn't it Florida that is famous for re-counts?

                                                                                                                                            3. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                              MelMM RE: Gio May 24, 2013 02:30 PM

                                                                                                                                              LOL, Gio, I do sound like I'm trying to get a bill through Congress.

                                                                                                                                              Just seems like SOANC supporters have split their votes between the book and the two-month option.

                                                                                                                                    2. jpr54_1 RE: greedygirl May 24, 2013 12:51 PM

                                                                                                                                      I changed my vote to soanc

                                                                                                                                      1. Breadcrumbs RE: greedygirl May 24, 2013 01:15 PM

                                                                                                                                        Since June is a very heavy travel month for me I won't join in the vote this time.

                                                                                                                                        I was in the TGI camp in the nomination thread and figured it would be easy for me to participate in an Italian month since I'm so familiar with the cuisine and always have ingredients on hand to throw something together even if I was only home for a few days.

                                                                                                                                        I don't own SOANC and while I do own Burma, it doesn't strike me as a book that makes sense for me given my circumstances in the month ahead so while I won't cast a vote, I'll certainly do my best to cook something from it if it does win and time & pantry permit.

                                                                                                                                        1. greedygirl RE: greedygirl May 24, 2013 03:06 PM

                                                                                                                                          Ok, so this run-off has been a lot more, erm, interesting than I expected! I think we can safely say that I won't be suggesting the "third option" again!

                                                                                                                                          If anyone wants to switch their vote to Soul of A New Cuisine, you have around ten hours to do so....

                                                                                                                                          PS, what's Dixville Notch?

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                                            MelMM RE: greedygirl May 24, 2013 04:06 PM

                                                                                                                                            This explains it better than I can:

                                                                                                                                          2. Breadcrumbs RE: greedygirl May 24, 2013 03:38 PM

                                                                                                                                            A question for those of you who have cooked from Burma.

                                                                                                                                            Are the recipes in the front of the book essential or, can you substitute store-bought items?

                                                                                                                                            What struck me as I flipped through it tonight was that most recipes seemed to call for at least one, often two and sometimes more other recipes from the front or elsewhere in the book.

                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                                              MelMM RE: Breadcrumbs May 24, 2013 04:05 PM

                                                                                                                                              deleted...replied to wrong post

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                                                pavlova RE: Breadcrumbs May 24, 2013 04:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                I haven't made any of them and I've cooked a few recipes from the book. I fry shallots just before making a recipe rather than making them in advance. I am very tempted by the tart-sweet chile-garlic sauce though! I can see it going on a lot of dishes...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: pavlova
                                                                                                                                                  Breadcrumbs RE: pavlova May 24, 2013 04:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks pavlova and funny you say that about the chile-garlic sauce...I felt the very same way and thought it looked and sounded amazing!

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                                                  Allegra_K RE: Breadcrumbs May 25, 2013 12:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                  When I first received Burma I cooked quite a few recipes from it right away, and I did assemble the ingredient line-up prior to embarking on the meals. Some of the items come up so frequently in the pages that it really is worth it to spend that extra hour to have on hand for future meals. I roasted and chopped a pile of peanuts (in the oven instead of on the stove top), because those would definitely be used, from Burma or other books. I fried the shallots, about a half-batch, and kept the resulting oil. Made a smaller batch of shrimp powder with my mortar & pestle, and toasted some chickpea flour.
                                                                                                                                                  Every time I've purchased fried shallots, they've tasted pretty awful, but I've heard that there are decent brands out there. Just don't try to be frugal like me when you buy them--you get what you pay for! I'm sure the other items would be fine from the store as well, but really it takes so little time to do it all that it's no big deal.
                                                                                                                                                  Oh, and for the chile oil, I followed Duguid's recipe and method and wound up discarding the mouldy oil a couple of weeks later. After that I stuck with Dunlop's version.

                                                                                                                                                  And the tart-sweet chile-garlic sauce is wonderful! I ended up using it in place of my usual chile-garlic sauce for other dishes as well. One batch would probably last for the entire month; I'm pretty sure mine was still good to the bottom of the jar.

                                                                                                                                                3. Candy RE: greedygirl May 24, 2013 08:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I will be using Burma. I have it and not be buying another cookbook. If my public library has Soul . I'll give it a spin.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Gio RE: greedygirl May 25, 2013 04:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Here's a link to a thread called Burning for Burmese that Allegra started last October that has reports on several recipes from Burma and quite a lively discussion:


                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                      Breadcrumbs RE: Gio May 25, 2013 07:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks Gio, I was wondering whether anyone had been cooking from the book already. Very helpful!

                                                                                                                                                    2. greedygirl RE: greedygirl May 25, 2013 08:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Voting is now closed, and the winner is BURMA. Thread to follow....

                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                                                        qianning RE: greedygirl May 25, 2013 08:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks GG. This turned out to be a surprisingly tough one for you. Really appreciated your extra work and great sense of humor throughout.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: qianning
                                                                                                                                                          greedygirl RE: qianning May 25, 2013 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Well, there's not much point in getting stressed is there - this is meant to be fun!

                                                                                                                                                          Sorry for the delay but I'm working nights this weekend and sleeping most of the day. The discussion thread is now up:


                                                                                                                                                        2. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                                                          geekmom RE: greedygirl May 25, 2013 09:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks, greedygirl, for your hard work on this one!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                                                            Breadcrumbs RE: greedygirl May 25, 2013 01:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Many many thanks for another excellent month gg! This was an exciting one. Cheers to you!

                                                                                                                                                          2. jpr54_1 RE: greedygirl May 25, 2013 12:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Happy that I have both books-
                                                                                                                                                            I will be returning from New Jersey to Florida tomorrow.
                                                                                                                                                            I can begin to plan meals tomorrow.

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