Tanya Holland's California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West reflects the many talents of Tanya Holland, Bay Area restaurateur; author (Brown Sugar Kitchen; New Soul Cooking); host of Tanya's Kitchen Table on the Oprah Winfrey Network; and host of the podcast Tanya's Table. This cookbook is a memoir, an homage to the Great Migration and a recipe collection that merges generations of Black culture with ingredients uniquely Californian.
Holland, like her Black ancestors from the southern United States, left her East Coast home in 2001 when California called, with its farm-to-table philosophy introduced by Alice Waters, founder of the Bay Area's Chez Panisse. In 2008, Holland opened Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland. Advocating for seasonal, plant-based food and sustainable animal proteins, she sources ingredients from the Black farmers and entrepreneurs she features. Ten photo essays ("Maker Profiles") of agricultural businesses highlight the specialty producers of dates, beer and more. More than 75 recipes for "California Soul food," arranged by season, delightfully reflect the marriage of Holland's heritage and the Golden State's bounty. Grilled Shrimp and Corn with Avocado White Barbecue Sauce derives from a "pale" sauce of the Deep South, different from the traditional red version. And what says "southern" and "California" better than a Fried Artichoke Po' Boy, a "vegetarian cousin" of the classic New Orleans sandwich? "No matter where we migrated from or ended up, our food comes with us and tells our story," Holland writes. "I am contributing and this is my story. I have a California Soul." Now home cooks can savor the stories and the tastes that Holland so lovingly shares. --Cheryl McKeon, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.