The Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool Cookbook

The Global Migration of African Cuisine

By Diane M. Spivey

Subjects: Food, African Studies, African American Studies
Paperback : 9780791443767, 434 pages, September 2000
Hardcover : 9780791443750, 434 pages, October 1999

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



Chapter One
Feasting among the "Eastern Ethiopians": The African Element in Dravidian Cuisine

Chapter Two
Catfish, Harvest, and Celebration among the Sons and Daughters of Kambu

Chapter Three
Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool: African Foods and Culinary Heritage in Mexico and Central America

Chapter Four
Zancu, Sweet Potatoes, and Beer: African Merchants and Peruvian Kitchens, from the Coast to the Highlands

Chapter Five
Body and Soul: The Miscegenation of Cuisine and Culture in Brazil and Cuba

Chapter Six
Without Rival, Anywhere: The Cultural Impact of the African Cook in the Americas

Chapter Seven
Economics, War, and the Northern Migration of the Southern Black Cook

Chapter Eight
Flapjacks and Blue Notes


Sources for Specialty Foods

Bibliographical Notes


A groundbreaking treatment of heritage survival in African and African American cooking.


Fifteen years in the making, this book emerges as a new approach to presenting culinary information. It showcases a myriad of sumptuous, mouth-watering recipes comprising the many commonalities in ingredients and methods of food preparation of people of color from various parts of the globe. This powerful book traces and documents the continent's agricultural and mineral prosperity and the strong role played by ancient explorers, merchants, and travelers from Africa's east and west coasts in making lasting culinary and cultural marks on the United States, the Caribbean, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, India, and Southeast Asia.

Groundbreaking in its treatment of heritage survival in African and African American cooking, this illuminating book broadens the scope of cuisine as it examines its historical relationship to a host of subjects—including music, advertising, sexual exploitation, and publishing. Provocative in its perspective, The Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool Cookbook dispels the long-standing misnomer that African cuisine is primitive, unsophisticated or simply non-existent, and serves as a reference in understanding how Africa's contributions continue to mark our cuisine and culture today.

Diane M. Spivey is an independent scholar and Research Associate with the Department of History at the University of Miami.


"According to the philosopher Bertrand Russell, civilization was born out of the pursuit of luxury. Food is not only a basic for survival, it is also a major theme in civilization. This book introduces us to Africa's contribution to an emerging global cuisine." — Ali A. Mazrui, Director, Institute of Global Cultural Studies

"I have been studying African culture for more than half a century, and know of nothing in the field of food and culinary art to compare with this book's scholarly and practical value. Spivey writes with infectious enthusiasm, and a nice spicing of wit, which are altogether admirable and make her writing a joy to read.

"I want to recommend Spivey's fine book to everyone with a genuine concern for the history of African civilization in its most testing and intimate field, examined so carefully here, whether on the preparation of food or its cultural values. I know of no other work of comparable value." — Basil Davidson, writer and host of the highly acclaimed documentary television series, Africa