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I went to Red Rooster while in New York a few months ago. I enjoyed the food and the experience of eating in the restaurant so much that I decided I had to have the book. There seem to be a few criticisms of the book about it being too arty etc - if I’m being honest my top priorities with cookbooks are for them to contain recipes that work and this book delivers on that so far. I’ve made the Obama ribs and cornbread, both of which are delicious (and as far as I’m concerned justify buying the book)!
This is more a history of Harlem and it's peoples than a cookbook. Yes there are written recipes, but very few photos of the finished dish, what few there are are shot arty-farty, like the majority of images of hands throwing flour into the air , or internal shots of a church. I am not at all impressed with this as a recipe book, it's more like one person's squinted eyes view of the things that have led to the birth of Harlem. Dissapoi ted is an understatement.
Let me start by stating that I am not a good cook. I cook to survive. I have always admired people who could cook. However I made the Obama short ribs and it had my baby screaming for more. The oxtails made me do a happy dance in the kitchen. I loved that this wasn't just a boring Cook book. This was a life lesson and history. This made me want to live in Harlem to see all the things mentioned. I will be stopping at The Rooster while in New York. Maybe Mr. Marcus will allow me to sit at a table in his kitchen to just watch the magic happen. You ever see an artist creating what will become his masterpiece? Yeah, I imagine I will get that same rush.
I would give this book 5 stars because I ate at Red Rooster and couldn't stop thinking about that meal, so I bought the book hoping to replicate some of the magic at home. I'm a pretty good cook, but I struggled with sourcing many of the ingredients that are required for most of the recipes I was interested in. I wish that there were substitutions offered, I had to do much of that online. For example, I can't even source lemongrass where I'm from. If I lived in a big city, maybe, or if I had unlimited funds to buy an entire spice rack for only a couple of tablespoons of spices, then maybe I could enjoy making these recipes. This isn't meant as a criticism, because I believe in the food and the recipes, just some constructive feedback. The recipes are amazing, but most of them are not accessible to people in suburban locations like mine.