Peanuts and the Cooking of West Africa

Writers throw out the words “African cooking” all the time. I know. I have written same words, to my great embarrassment. But stop and think about something for a moment. The term “African cooking” is just as ridiculous as calling the cooking of Europe “European cooking,” lumping together the cuisine of France with that of…

The Smoke of Many Fires: A Meditation on Cooking Fires in Africa*

I still smell the smoke of many fires, its pungency hauling up memories, deep from that hidden place where forgotten things wait until the right atoms collide. With each of my slow short breaths, a picture of West Africa emerges, behind my eyes where I can see the past scrolling like a Technicolor movie. The…

A Cook’s Finger, or, A Pearl Beyond Price, Part 2

Continued from January 7, 2010: In the beginning, dealing with Michel’s injured finger didn’t bring out the best in me. Truthfully, I longed to wash my hands of my cook’s ineptness. I did not want to take the time to deal with any of it. And yet, seeing Michel disintegrating in pain, well, I knew…