What Cherene Sherrard Learned about a Pioneering Black Cookbook Author by Cooking Her Recipes

Article by Cherene Sherrard in Atlas Obscura

December 1, 2020

Grimoire Front CoverLittle is known about the first African-American woman to publish a cookbook. Determined to get to know Mrs. Malinda Russell and her cookbook A Domestic Cookbook: Containing A Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen better, Cherene Sherrard searched her recipes for clues and prepared them with great care before her captivation led to writing Grimoire.

In Atlas Obscura she writes, “My desire to recover her distinctive voice and fill in archival gaps inspired Grimoire, my poetry collection that is also a conversation between Russell and a 21st-century mother and cook.”

Cherene details what she’s learned about Russell while cooking her recipes and writing her sophomore poetry collection Grimoire.

Writing Grimoire was also an act of faith. Would these poems, spun from autobiographical slivers, express emotional, if not factual, truths?

Interested in what inspired Cherene Sherrard’s Grimoire and how her poems relate to Russell? Cherene shares her thoughts and process here in Atlas Obscura.

Filed under: Feature, Poetry