‘The Jemima Code’ reveals little-known culinary legacies of Black men and women

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In more than 200 simple recipes organized to “lift culinary art from the commonplace,” Lucille’s Treasure Chest of Fine Foods dates back to 1941. Photo courtesy of University of Texas Press

One of the nation's most distinctive and varied regional cuisines comes from the American South. Yet, of the 100,000 recipe collections published over the last two centuries, only 200 or so have been properly credited to African American cooks and writers.

Toni Tipton-Martin is a culinary journalist and founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. In 2015, Evan Kleiman spoke with her about her groundbreaking book, “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks.”  The book reaches beyond the figure of “Jemima” — a smiling Black woman with an apron and headscarf — to reveal the culinary legacies of the real men and women pushed aside by history.

“The Jemima Code” is about 200 years of cookbooks by African Americans. Photo courtesy of University of Texas Press



Evan Kleiman