I was wrong. I've been calling The Red Rooster Cookbook a cookbook. Maybe it was the name that was throwing me off, or maybe that everyone was calling it a cookbook and stocking it with the cookbooks that made me think it was just another cookbook. A really amazing cookbook, but just another cookbook.
Ya, it's not that.
Sure, it has recipes (more about that in a minute), but this is not a cookbook. It is not even just a love letter to Harlem and the lifestyles and people and culture that Harlem represents, although that's here too. This book is the music and the poetry and the novels and the lives that is Harlem, that have been and continue to be inspired by Harlem, that are us all, in that inner part of our hearts and souls that cannot be broken by the million petty and important details that try to separate us and distract us every day. This book is a call to arms, to unify, to see and actually talk to your neighbors and your friends and your family. This book is a wake-up call to suck the marrow out of life. It is the dawn of a new day, a day that connects us to the thousands of days that came before us and the thousands of days that will follow.
Clearly, this book is an inspiration. I recommend that you read it now and then again, often, maybe even daily, to remember all that is important in life. To remember how to breathe.
Oh, and it also has recipes.
If you aren't interested in all that and just want some tasty ideas for dinners and breakfasts, then you should definitely page through and see the mind-boggling buffet that Chef Marcus Samuelsson offers you through these pages. It's southern Soul Food, but with Swedish influences, with African spice blends, with hints of Asian and South American flavors. In other words, he teaches you how to cook the whole world but with the simple techniques that home cooks can use.
Ribs and gumbo, chicken and waffles, whole fried fish and grits--it's all here, along with Double-Dragon Rice with Grilled Shrimp and Puerco en Cerveza (pork in beer) with Plantains on the Side and Jerk Bacon and Baked Beans. His flavorful ideas jump off the page and force you to think about the rest of the world and all it has to offer. There is no end to his imagination, and he shares it all with us through the pages of The Red Rooster Cookbook.