Recipes From Black America

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The spacious, informal Sweet Home Café at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., offers a menu that represents black cooking from many regions across America. Southern fried chicken, Louisiana gumbo, Northern oyster pan roast and skillet cornbread from the West are some dishes. Now recipes from the cafe and from black home and professional cooks, mostly traditional fare, have been collected in a cookbook. Keepers like mixed greens with baby turnips, biscuits, a somewhat-upmarket pimento cheese, fried croaker, and macaroni and cheese that's almost as easy as a packaged mix, are interspersed with history and sidebars about ingredients like okra, rice and peanuts.

"Sweet Home Cafe Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking" by Albert Lukas, Jerome Grant and Jessica B. Harris (Smithsonian Books, $29.95).