Vibration Cooking was first published in 1970, not long after
the term "soul food" gained common use. While critics were quick to
categorize her as a proponent of soul food, Smart-Grosvenor wanted
to keep the discussion of her cookbook/memoir focused on its
message of food as a source of pride and validation of black
womanhood and black "consciousness raising."
In 1959, at the age of nineteen, Smart-Grosvenor sailed to
Europe, "where the bohemians lived and let live." Among the
cosmopolites of radical Paris, the Gullah girl from the South
Carolina low country quickly realized that the most universal
lingua franca is a well-cooked meal. As she recounts a cool cat's
nine lives as chanter, dancer, costume designer, and member of the
Sun Ra Solar-Myth Arkestra, Smart-Grosvenor introduces us to a rich
cast of characters. We meet Estella Smart, Vertamae's grandmother
and connoisseur of mountain oysters; Uncle Costen, who lived to be
112 and knew how to make Harriet Tubman Ragout; and Archie Shepp,
responsible for Collard Greens à la Shepp, to name a few. She also
tells us how poundcake got her a marriage proposal (she didn't
accept) and how she perfected omelettes in Paris, enchiladas in New
Mexico, biscuits in Mississippi, and feijoida in Brazil. "When I
cook, I never measure or weigh anything," writes Smart-Grosvenor.
"I cook by vibration."
This edition features a foreword by Psyche Williams-Forson
placing the book in historical context and discussing
Smart-Grosvenor's approach to food and culture. A new preface by
the author details how she came to write Vibration
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