cover image The Martha's Vineyard Table

The Martha's Vineyard Table

Jessica B. Harris, . . Chronicle, $35 (203pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-4999-9

Harris has focused in the past on writing about African diasporic food traditions, so her tackling of the Martha's Vineyard's food landscape may come as a surprise. The Vineyard Harris knows and loves is infinitely more colorful and diverse than the one most visitors may glimpse when they rent a cottage for a week. Hers is one born of years of home ownership and a deep understanding of the island legacy of African-American homeowners, Portuguese immigrants and Mexican restaurant laborers. Her page-long descriptions of each area of the island capture the essence of Menemsha, Edgartown and Vineyard Haven; readers will instantly feel like insiders. The easy, simply written recipes don't so much reflect quintessential Martha's Vineyard as they reflect Harris's personal background and experiences of a lifetime of weekends and summers, incorporating all cuisines from Jamaican (Red Pea Soup with Spinners—made with kidney beans and dumplings) through Portuguese (Kale Soup with chorizo) to Southern African-American (Corn Fritters), and old island classics like Smoked Bluefish Salad, Quahog Stew and Cranberry-Apple Crisp. Harris's prose, combined with the clean, crisp photos (by Susie Cushner) make a perfect Martha's Vineyard guidebook. Harris instructs where to find the classic summer pies or a good loaf of bread, and what to serve your guests as they laze on the porch with a gin and tonic in one hand and a deviled egg in the other. (May)