Anyone familiar with Bryant Terry’s work as a James Beard award–winning educator, chef, and author knows his M.O.: He’s been teaching the importance of eating whole foods, and working to create a healthful, just food system since his beginning as a grassroots activist almost 20 years ago. Terry was inspired by how food has been used throughout history as an expression of Black agency: From the rice that African women stealthily wove in their hair before embarking on the Middle Passage; to the proliferation of watermelon as a symbol of Black freedom; to the Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast for Schoolchildren, which fed children from low-income neighborhoods in the 1960s and 1970s across America.
It’s with this celebration of Black culture and foodways that Terry's new book, Vegetable Kingdom, opens. He is playful in his approach to recipes, thinking "as a collagist—curating, cutting, pasting, and remixing staple ingredients, cooking techniques, and traditional Black dishes popular throughout the world to make [my] own signature recipes.” And the diverse mix of dishes proves Terry's deftness with African, Asian, Caribbean, and American Southern flavors—Haricot Vert and Mushroom Stew, Dry Yardlong Beans with Broken Rice, and Jerk Tofu Wrapped in Collard Greens, to name a few—plus, his eagerness to fuse them in fascinating ways.