What I Learned About a Pioneering Black Cookbook Author by Cooking Her Recipes

Malinda Russell cookbook illustration

Cookbooks are the best kinds of time capsules (in my opinion). You can learn so much about people from what they eat, how they make food, and how they talk about food. Check out this great piece from Gastro Obscura about the first (known) cookbook written by a black woman.

From the moment I held the reprint of Mrs. Malinda Russell’s A Domestic Cookbook: Containing A Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen, I was smitten. The 39-page volume is the first known cookbook written by a Black woman: Russell was born in eastern Tennessee to a mother whose family had been freed in Virginia, and, during the Civil War, left behind her pastry shop as she fled to Michigan, where she wrote A Domestic Cookbook. An original copy, which was rediscovered by culinary curator Janice Bluestein Longone, resides in the University of Michigan’s Clements Library.

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