cover image Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West

Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West

Tanya Holland, with Maria C. Hunt and Kelley Fanto Deetz. Ten Speed, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-1-984860-72-9

Holland, owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, Calif., peppers her layered take on soul food with stories of African American pioneers, among them Bridget “Biddy” Mason, an enslaved person who upon arriving in California in 1848 sued for her freedom and won, as well as leaders in contemporary Black-owned foodie enterprises like date grower Sam Cobb. The text digs deep, framing how African crops—such as the black-eyed peas in a dip served with benne seed crackers—traveled to the Americas. Organized by season, the recipes marry influences of the West Coast and the South, where Holland’s parents hail from: think fried chicken–style paillards dredged in rice flour, and baked ham with kumquat glaze. Summer brings desserts including a chess pie infused with dried lavender, while winter is represented by a mahogany-hued spatchcocked chicken brined in sweet tea, and sweet potato pots de crème. Innovation and originality run through the entire volume, whether that means savory zucchini and scallion waffles or a tour of an educational urban microfarm. Holland’s voice is encouraging throughout: “If you can get past the prep, you’ve won,” she notes in a recipe for a New Orleans po’ boy featuring fried artichokes. The mix of personality, regional flavors, and history make for a winning combination. (Oct.)