Review: Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook

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The Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook, Akashic Books, 2016Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook

Ziggy Marley & Family
Akashic Books
October 2016

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: cookbooks are like porn for me with their glossy pictures of beautifully arranged food that never quite turns out looking so pretty. You just have to accept from the get-go that you may try some of those new techniques or ingredients, but it rarely turns out the way its shown. (I actually didn’t intend for the metaphor to work this well.)

The Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook is, of course, no different in its promises of freshness and health. The front cover stresses it’s for whole, organic ingredients which always makes me ask, “So, can I use these non-organic carrots in my fridge that are on the verge of going bad in these recipes?”

I mock, because the American middle-class appropriation of “whole food,” “organic,” and “local,” and the consequent shaming for those who cannot or will not eat as such is the filter through which I interpret so many cookbooks and food blogs. As I only know the Marley family via Bob Marley and Bob Marley via white appropriation of Rasta culture, I found it hard to approach this cookbook with anything other than skepticism.

The Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook promises delicious food and delivers. I made the lentil soup which was delicious and the lack of salt allowed for the vegetables and other ingredients to truly shine through. Throwing too much salt on things is certainly an American habit of mine. Though I mainly cook vegetarian dishes, the recipes are not limited to veggies. There are several delicious fish recipes, as well as the necessary jerk chicken, and the curry dishes have been eagerly calling my name, while any recipe that calls for scotch bonnets has me immediately cringing and saying, “Nah, I’ll go with habernos, thank you, I like my taste buds.”

Many of the recipes call for special ingredients that might be hard to find in some places, and because of these many ingredients, the recipes are fairly involved. Most recipes call for ten plus ingredients, while others call for specialized equipment like a juicer. Thus, this is really a cookbook for people who already feel comfortable making their way around the kitchen and have the money and ability to acquire special ingredients and equipment and know what “parbake” means.

The Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook does go to great lengths to assure you that it’s healthy and “nourishing” (which is just code for healthy), all while hocking its own brand of organic foods. At least compared to some cookbooks based on similar branding, the ingredients list presents you with the option for “Ziggy Marley’s Coco ‘Mon Coconut Oil OR coconut oil of your choosing.” For example, there’s a recipe for “mancakes,” which is an eye-roll inducing and sexist name for pancakes with flaxseeds and other fibrous ingredients to help you poop better because “Mancakes got to nourish” and the maple syrup is “a treat.” All this occurs amidst images of the Ziggy Marley family set against lovely, lush green backdrops, and I feel my cultural critic creeping in as I suss out the intentions of the book and its creators.

This is the first cookbook from Akashic Books, an indie publisher, whose aim is “reverse-gentrification of the literary world.” That’s a tagline I can get behind, but I can’t see this cookbook serving any other audience than the middle-class American audience that has already appropriated “organic, local, whole” food. Don’t get me wrong! I plan on keeping this book for the curry dishes alone, but then, I am the middle-class American they are speaking to.

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Smashing the patriarchy with glitter, pink lipstick, and cowboy boots. You can follow her on Instagram @ginnistonik

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