Good morning. Samin Nosrat wrote a beautiful column for The New York Times Magazine about the joys of reading cookbooks, about using them as a stand-in for the travels we can’t really take during the pandemic, and about how difficult it can be sometimes to find big, authoritative reads about regions of the globe that are, as Samin put it, “written by authors who are deeply familiar with the cuisines of countries that Americans don’t typically visit on summer vacation.”
Luckily, though, Samin has been spending time with “In Bibi’s Kitchen,” by Hawa Hassan, an accounting of the recipes and stories of grandmothers from the eight African countries that touch the Indian Ocean. One of her favorites came from Ghennet Tesfamicael, a teacher in Yonkers who is originally from Eritrea, who talked about shiro (above), a simple ground-chickpea stew. “It’s the most loved and appreciated dish by the Eritrean people,” Ms. Tesfamicael says to Ms. Hassan in the book. “And it’s easy.”
And it is, at least once you’ve assembled, toasted and ground the spice mixture that provides the stew’s warm, beautiful scent. You should give that recipe a try this week, and explore Ms. Hassan’s book as soon as you can.
Tuesday is Election Day, of course, and Kim Severson and I got to talking about how many people we were seeing in our social media feeds and in our inboxes asking about what people would be cooking during the night of watching returns.
Raised in newsrooms, we’re both used to pizza as the only conceivable option. But it’s kind of a great question. We won’t be having communal watch parties, so maybe vats of chili are out. Comfort food, though, whatever that means to you, however you’re voting or have voted, will certainly be top of mind.
I could imagine, for instance, the joys of an election night bo ssam, picking at it for hours. Also, the pleasures of the Indian-ish nachos Priya Krishna makes with her mom. How about the oxtail soup in peanut sauce that Ligaya Mishan found in another cookbook, Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad’s “I Am a Filipino”? You might try Ali Slagle’s one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon. Or Hooni Kim’s Hanjan chicken wings? Always and forever, there is the cornbread tamale pie from “The Joy of Cooking.”
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Now, you’d need a heck of an application programming interface to make it anything to do with food, but you won’t go wrong with James Lee Burke’s “Light of the World.”
A hat tip to Kate Lowry of Lynchburg, Va., who suggested we all read Howard Nemerov’s poem, “The Consent.”
Finally, to end where we started, what cookbooks are you reading these days, for comfort and escape? I’ve been cooking a lot from Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook’s “Israeli Soul,” and imagining myself traveling through Israel at their shoulders, eating all along the way.. How about you? Let me know: email@example.com. And I’ll be back on Wednesday.