Read this cookbook: “Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook: Recipes and Stories From 100 of the Most Creative and Inspiring Women in Food Today” by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu (Clarkson Potter, $35)
By Wendell Brock
When I first looked at this book, from the founders of Cherry Bombe, the biannual magazine about women and food, my impulse was to dismiss it as a pretty trifle with all the shelf life of a box of chocolate-covered cherries.
I love all things girly, pink and over-the-top, but the book seemed to be more about style than substance. Beet ricotta dumplings and pink spaghetti are pretty and everything. But where were the “stories” promised in the title?
Yet after taking the time to read the head notes for the 100 recipes of this lovingly curated, cleverly designed volume, I’ve decided I was all wrong.
“Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook” is not just a collection of recipes from celebrity chefs. Bloggers, photographers, food stylists, entrepreneurs, fashion models and purpose-driven cooks are represented, too, and the material is compelling.
Jessamyn Rodriguez, who runs New York’s Hot Bread Kitchen, a social enterprise that helps immigrant women launch careers and food businesses, also happens to cook a mean brisket.
Hawa Hassan, the CEO of a company that sells a line of Somali condiments, offers Maraq Digaag (Somali Chicken Stew with Yogurt & Coconut Milk). She told the authors that “every woman in her family knows this recipe by heart and has passed it down to the next generation.”
And then there’s Homa Dashtaki, who started Brooklyn’s White Mustache yogurt company with her dad because “they couldn’t find anything similar to the rich, delicious yogurt they enjoyed back in Iran.” Dashtaki contributes a recipe for Labneh with Nigella Seeds & Sumac.
The American South makes a strong showing, too: Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah contributes a recipe for Salted Flounder & Sweet Potato Tartines. Katie Button of Asheville, N.C., brings her Spanish flair to Roasted Branzini with Tomatoes, Potatoes & Herbs. And Raleigh’s Ashley Christensen delivers Grilled Oysters with Gremolata and Chili Butter.
In the end, “Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook” is just as smart as it is frothy. These are some of the coolest women in food today. It’s hardly their fault that they’re so fabulous.
Wendell Brock is an Atlanta-based food and culture writer, frequent AJC contributor and winner of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for journalism. Follow him on Twitter (@MrBrock) and Instagram (@WendellDavidBrock).