The Gullah Geechee phrase “bress 'n' nyam,” means “bless and eat,” which could not be a more fitting title for Matthew Raiford’s new cookbook. Raiford, who refers to himself as a “CheFarmer,” as both cooking and farming are equally integral to his lifestyle, calls this book his “origin story.” Weaving together his family history through heirloom recipes, Bress ‘n’ Nyam is a true farm-to-table cookbook in the Gullah Geechee tradition, highlighting local produce, grains, meat, and seafood. The recipes in Bress ‘n’ Nyam are organized, as Raiford writes, “according to their elemental beginnings: earth, water, fire, wind, nectar, and spirits.” The following is an excerpt from the “Eart/Earth” chapter.
When I returned to Gilliard Farms in 2011, I was full of ambition. I had been to Hyde Park! I had studied sustainable food systems in California! I wanted to recreate rice fields in two depressions beneath a canopy of oaks and seed them with the robust heirloom grains once cultivated by my great-great-great-grandfather Jupiter. I envisioned bountiful rows of tomatoes, squash, corn, peppers, peas, sweet potatoes, and watermelons.