Vibration Cooking: or, The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl

Vibration Cooking: or, The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl


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Vibration Cooking was first published in 1970, not long after the term “soul food” gained common use. While critics were quick to categorize her as a proponent of soul food, Smart-Grosvenor wanted to keep the discussion of her cookbook/memoir focused on its message of food as a source of pride and validation of black womanhood and black “consciousness raising.”

In 1959, at the age of nineteen, Smart-Grosvenor sailed to Europe, “where the bohemians lived and let live.” Among the cosmopolites of radical Paris, the Gullah girl from the South Carolina low country quickly realized that the most universal lingua franca is a well-cooked meal. As she recounts a cool cat’s nine lives as chanter, dancer, costume designer, and member of the Sun Ra Solar-Myth Arkestra, Smart-Grosvenor introduces us to a rich cast of characters. We meet Estella Smart, Vertamae’s grandmother and connoisseur of mountain oysters; Uncle Costen, who lived to be 112 and knew how to make Harriet Tubman Ragout; and Archie Shepp, responsible for Collard Greens à la Shepp, to name a few. She also tells us how poundcake got her a marriage proposal (she didn’t accept) and how she perfected omelettes in Paris, enchiladas in New Mexico, biscuits in Mississippi, and feijoida in Brazil. “When I cook, I never measure or weigh anything,” writes Smart-Grosvenor. “I cook by vibration.”

This edition features a foreword by Psyche Williams-Forson placing the book in historical context and discussing Smart-Grosvenor’s approach to food and culture. A new preface by the author details how she came to write Vibration Cooking.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820337395
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 04/15/2011
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 224,397
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

VERTAMAE SMART-GROSVENOR (1937–2016) was a poet, actress, culinary anthropologist, and writer. She is the author of Thursdays and Every Other Sunday Off: A Domestic Rap, Vertamae Cooks in the Americas’ Family Kitchen, and Vertamae Cooks Again: More Recipes from the Americas’ Family Kitchen. She has served as a correspondent and host for National Public Radio and written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Washington Post, Life, Ebony, and Essence.

Table of Contents

Foreword Psyche Williams-Forson xiii

Preface to the 2011 Edition xxxiii

The Demystification of Food xxxvii

Home 1

Birth, Hunting and Gator Tails 3

The Smarts, the Ritters and Chief Kuku Koukoui 9

Philadelphia, Mrs. Greenstein and Terrapins 30

First Cousins and the Numbers 42

Away From Home 51

'59 53

'68 61

Madness 69

Forty Acres and a Jeep 71

Name-calling 74

Hospitals Ain't No Play Pretty 80

Taxis and Poor Man's Mace 86

Work 89

Love 101

I Love Dinner Parties 103

...My Friends 107

...African Clothes 116

...Bon Voyage Parties 119

Mixed Bag 127

Collards and Other Greens 129

Poultices and Home Remedies 135

Spices 137

Aphrodisiacal Foods 139

Cocktails and Other Beverages 140

White Folks and Fried Chicken 144

The Jet Set and Beautiful People 150

Some Letters to and from Stella and One to Bob Thompson 157

To Be Continued 181

The Kitchen 183

A Poem 185

Appendix 1 Introduction to the 1986 Edition 187

Appendix 2 Introduction to the 1992 Edition 195

Index of Recipes 209

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