Leave no stone unturned: taking inspiration from Edna Lewis

Oct 5, 2018

Toni Tipton-Martin is an acclaimed food writer and the author of The Jemima Code, a book that presents the history of African-American cooking told through 200 years of black cookbooks. It paints a picture of a cuisine that’s more diverse, technical, and sophisticated than the stereotypes of black food. For our tribute episode Edna Lewis, an American Original, Francis Lam wanted to talk to Tipton-Martin about her personal connection to Edna Lewis, and the inspiration and encouragement she received directly from the legendary writer.

Toni Tipton-Martin Photo: Pableaux Johnson

"We get stuck sometimes in making physical observations, but I have to say that given the work that I've been doing and how it started in my desire to find an alternative view of African-American women in the food world, I don't guess I can escape the fact that what she looked like made a huge impression on me. Because she was so contrary to the stereotype myth of an Aunt Jemima mammy character as being the representation of an African-American woman in the kitchen. And my goal with all of my work is to use African-American cooks as an example of people who have been disparaged and spoken about prejudiciously, and they have so much that they can offer and share."

- Toni Tipton-Martin on her first time meeting Edna Lewis