Author Visit: Coconuts and Collards by Von Diaz
Please join us in welcoming author Von Diaz and Detroit based-photographer Cybelle Codish for an evening of food and stories found in Diaz's new book, Coconuts and Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South.
The stories center on the women in Diaz’s family who have used food to nourish and care for one another. When her mother--newly single and with two young daughters--took a second job to make ends meet, Diaz taught herself to cook, preparing meals for her sister after school, feeding her mother when she came home late from work. During summer visits to Puerto Rico, her grandmother guided her rediscovery of the island’s flavors and showed her traditional cooking techniques. Years later the island called her back to its warm and tropical embrace to be comforted by its familiar flavors.
Inspired by her grandmother’s 1962 copy of Cocina Criolla--the Puerto Rican equivalent of the Joy of Cooking--Coconuts and Collards celebrates traditional recipes while fusing them with Diaz’s own family history and a contemporary Southern flair. Diaz discovers the connections between the food she grew up eating in Atlanta and the African and indigenous influences in so many Puerto Rican dishes.
VON DIAZ is a writer and radio producer based in New York City. She is a self-taught cook who explores Puerto Rican food, culture, and identity through memoir and multimedia. Her work has been featured on NPR, American Public Media, StoryCorps, WNYC, PRI’s The World, BuzzFeed, The Splendid Table, The Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy Podcast and Quarterly, Colorlines, and Feet in 2 Worlds.