The chemistry of turning raw ingredients into something delicious is only one of the joys of cooking.

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Nom. Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

When I was maybe nine or ten, I got a cookbook for Christmas or my birthday. It was a volume designed with what I think of now as a cheery, 70s’-style enthusiasm for children’s psyches. Composed of menus for meals from cultures around the world, it brimmed with colorful illustrations and typography, inviting to look at and read, whether or not you made any of its recipes. If I could look at it now, I would probably see that its representation of various cultures relied on stereotypes that I now find reductive, just as I can now see that so much of white, middle-class “multiculturalism” has had problematic blinders of privilege circumscribing it. Still, the cookbook invited its child-readers to consider a world of flavors and textures beyond the one-meat, one-veg, one-potato-dish meal that made up the standard American dinner then (and probably still). It was my introduction to a literal wide world of cuisines, and although its menus and versions of foods were adapted to both kid and American tastes and pantries, it awoke an awareness in me of there being more, much more, available than I could see around me in my everyday life. …


Jenn Brown

Former teacher. Poet, essayist. Sometime gadfly. Doodler. Wild-yeast baker. Dog-companion. She/her. Social media: oneofthejenns. Blog at

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