Beacon Press: If I Can Cook/You Know God Can
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If I Can Cook/You Know God Can

African American Food Memories, Meditations, and Recipes

Author: Ntozake Shange

An expanded edition of a celebrated book that travels throughout the African diaspora to savor the timeless joy of black cuisine and culture.

A hidden gem by the author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Some Sing, Some Cry, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo, and Betsey Brown, a delightfully eclectic tribute to black cuisine as a food of life that reflects the spirit and history of a people. This edition, with delectable illustrations, features additional recipes—including two vegan dishes—that connect the culinary past to the present and welcomes a new generation of readers. With recipes such as “Cousin Eddie’s Shark with Breadfruit” and “Collard Greens to Bring You Money,” Shange instructs us in the nuances of a cuisine born on the slave ships of the Middle Passage, spiced by the jazz of Duke Ellington, and shared by generations across the African diaspora. Rich with personal memories and historical insight, If I Can Cook/You Know God Can is a timeless story of the migration of a people and the cuisine that marks their living legacy and celebration of taste.

About the Series

Celebrating Black Women Writers reissues and revives Beacon Press’s previously published literary works by black women. The series uplifts exceptional work written by black women in honor of their stories, lives, and experiences throughout history and beyond.
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“This book is the first one I recommend to all cooks to understand the soul of our food. . . . It’s as indispensable as hot sauce.”
—Michael W. Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

“A rich, dense gumbo of food memories, history, recipes, and the special kind of magic that only Shange can create . . . I loved it the first time around; in this new version, it, like the rainbow, is more than enuf.”
—Jessica B. Harris, author of My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir and High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America

“Listen. To sister Shange’s rainbow recipes of light and love. Listen. To the stirring of her pots and pans with food that fuels our movements and memories. Can’t wait for her to cook me up some of her magic so we can eat and laugh and be. Stay human.”
—Sonia Sanchez, poet and activist

“Ntozake Shange has always been a salve. Her exploration of food as a conversation about ancestral logic, as story, as medicine, as road map, as celebration, and as reclamation is delicious.”
—Dominique Christina, author of Anarcha Speaks

“An epic work of memoir, archive, cookbook, diasporic history, and culinary ethnography—this book is simply a remarkable gift.”
—Morgan Parker, author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé

Praise for the first edition:

“Shange stirs and simmers the soul and moves the reader/eater/cook to rethink every morsel of Pan–African history, personal celebration, and global pain that enters our lives when we gather around her magical hearth to laugh, to cry—but most indispensably—to eat.”
—Edwidge Danticat, author of The Farming of Bones

“Infused with a down-home feel and vernacular rhythms . . . this slim, lively book stimulates and elucidates, and is well worth chewing on.”
—Luis H. Francia, The Village Voice

“This culinary memoir . . . is as valuable for its inspirational and factual nuggets as it is for its unusual recipes . . . . Soul-nourishing.”
—Carmela Ciuraru, Entertainment Weekly

“A captivating collection of African-American food memories, meditations and recipes.”
—Kathy Martin, Miami Herald

“Shange achieves . . . revolutionary splendor. She wraps history and legend and recipes and folklore around one big roti . . . makes a gumbo out of memories and laughter and recipes and black vernacular . . . throws spicy metaphors into recipes that have traveled from Africa and Brazil and the Caribbean and Brixton, England.”
American Visions

“A fervent, richly impassioned chronicle of African American experience.”


by Vertamae Grosvenor


Learning to Be Hungry / Holdin’ On Together

What’d You People Call That?

What We Don’t Say in Public

All It Took Was a Road / Surprises of Urban Renewal

Birthday in Brixton

Too Many Fish in the Sea

Brazil: More African Than Africans

What Is It We Really Harvestin’ Here?

Westward Ho! Anywhere Must Be Better’n Here!

Better Late Than Never

Is That Why the Duke Had a Train of His Own?

And What Did You Serve? Oh, No, You Did Not!

Virtual Realities, Real People, Real Foods

Epilogue 2018: Savannah and Friends’ Prize-Winning Recipes

If I Can Cook/You Know God Can

ISBN: 978-080702144-6
Publication Date: 1/29/2019
Size:5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Price:  $15.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.