The variety of literature that has my actual bookshelf overflowing with information would not be properly represented if I did not highlight the variation found among the different texts. Human behavior and anthropological topics fill up the majority of my shelves concerning content, yet the worn out pages that I interact with most frequently are worn out for a reason; I continue to go back to them time and time again….. those are my gems, cookbooks!
I don’t fancy myself a chef or baker, but I do not hesitate to highlight my ability to create. Read a recipe, interact with the ingredients, be intentional about the task at hand and voila! With the vast amount of cooking shows, cooking competitions, restaurants, food delivery services, food critics, food food food food food it just makes sense that I would have some form of interaction with what I put into my body and the bodies of those I care about. Whether from a perspective of health, vitality, taste, or pleasure food is an easy entry point towards connecting with people. If I do not make my food then I am relying on another person to make my food or I am not eating. That persons energy is going into the food, which is then going into my body. I am from a generation that has access and privilege to order in, microwave, eat out and not necessarily have to put thought into food per say. As I grow and age I am working towards creating from memory and practice, being creative in my form of presentation with plating and discovering all that there is to discover about my palate. And in comes Sacred Vibes Cookbook…….. coordinated in its entirety by my former teacher, Karen Rose, and encompassed by recipes from fellow apprentices.
In full transparency, I have two recipes published in the SV Cookbook. All credit to my parents. I come from a family of great cooks and bakers so being able to make something “taste good” has never garnered admiration in my tribe. Of 9 grandchildren all 9 can cook out of necessity with 7 being able to recreate dishes spanning back to our grandparents. Presentation of that which tastes “good” and the ability to incorporate herbs from our mother country may welcome a comment of praise from the group, but that’s about it. In addition, recipes are held onto so dearly in my culture that sharing with another can be taken as a betrayal. Karen’s ability to make space for women of color to tell their stories and essentially their truth in her consciously welcoming space allows for the universality of that which is private to be released. In a very real sense, her apothecary is inviting & lined on 3 walls with dry herbs that have their roots in indigenous medicinal traditions that surpass the transatlantic slave trade. Her work of making accessible that which has been forgotten by children of the diaspora is commemorable even if you don’t believe in herbal medicine. Good luck on getting into her apprenticeship program if you can’t connect to the spiritual aspects of yourself.
From beginning to end I’ve enjoyed the Sacred Vibes Cookbook. Knowing the stories behind the recipes and the women telling the stories adds an emotional element of joy, pride and transcendent content. It pulls to mind the Combahee River Collective and ways in which women of color have joined together to create beauty, truth and inspiration for future generations. Shout out to the city’s 1st lady Chirlane McCray, an original member of Combahee River Collective back in the 70’s, who went on to publish “I am a Lesbian” in Essence magazine back when being in the LGBTQ community was even more burdensome than it is today concerning safety, rights & [lack of] privilege. Before I diverge further from the cookbook, I share that part of herstory to highlight Karen Rose’s intent to allow for the collective creation of a cookbook infused with not only herbs in every single recipe but also people whom she respects, and wanted to collaborate with. Where are those spaces and places where your sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and race as it exists on a socially constructed spectrum can be celebrated in all of its full glory? I have found that to be present in Karen’s apothecary, Sacred Vibes.
In the Sacred Vibes Cookbook you’ll find desserts, main courses, syrups, concoctions and stories woven into why each recipe exists. I’d recommend for the intermediate/advanced level cook who has access to purchasing numerous ingredients AND has a kitchen equipped with adequate cooking tools. Bravo to you Karen for continuing to create opportunities for women of color to create together in queer friendly spaces.
Below I share a photo from the “Annual Indigenous Day” bake off between my mother and I in which she absolutely annihilates me every year. One of the recipes from the Cookbook is on that table!