Podcast: A baker’s resolve

Immigrant recipes, collected by Greg Patent

Greg Patent is a skilled baker and cookbook author, whose 2002 book Baking in America won a James Beard Award. Patent’s new book, A Baker’s Odyssey, explores immigrant baking — recipes brought to the United States from people coming to live here.

Greg Patent

From folhados (Portuguese puff pastry) to jian bing (Chinese flatbread) to casatelli (fried pastries with a sweet-and-spicy garbanzo filling — a Sicilian specialty), Patent introduces us to unfamiliar but wonderful techniques and ingredients. His book includes a DVD of Patent (a longtime cooking-show host) baking nine of his recipes.

Patent told us that one of his goals in writing this book was to get these recipes written down before they were altered by American cooking habits. So he worked primarily with immigrants themselves, or their first-generation offspring. To hear more about what was involved in creating this cookbook — and to hear more about Patent’s unusual early life — tune in here.

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1. by khenricks on Feb 5, 2008 at 12:01 PM PST

I work with many refugees and immigrants in St. Louis and I’m always looking for new ways to spread the wisdom about the wonderful things immigrants have to offer ... I think sharing some of recipes from this book with my friends and family is one great way!

2. by umsami on Feb 5, 2008 at 9:00 PM PST

This sounds wonderful. I’ve learned to cook some interesting Middle Eastern sweets from my MIL... some great Indian sweets from friends... and would love to learn more. I’m especially excited about the recipe for jian bing. What a great idea to include a DVD.

3. by Nick on Feb 5, 2008 at 10:06 PM PST

I’ve been baking quite a bit lately, and have been exploring some traditional breads from Northern Europe specifically. This sounds very interesting.

4. by amwhiteh on Feb 6, 2008 at 9:10 AM PST

I really want to start baking more!

5. by stuart on Feb 6, 2008 at 10:41 AM PST

The jian bing and the casatelli both sound great. I do love my bread.

6. by starsmom on Feb 6, 2008 at 11:11 AM PST

this sounds fascinating........I would love to read this....

7. by Juli on Feb 6, 2008 at 11:24 AM PST

Patent’s premise catches my imagination--what a way to share cultures! The American melting pot is an oven...thank you for sharing this with us, Culinate.

8. by faither on Feb 6, 2008 at 2:28 PM PST

What a phenomenal gift, to be able to capture cultural heritage of foods, invited into homes by folks who were willing to share the legacy.

9. by valschuster on Feb 6, 2008 at 7:46 PM PST

Hi KIm. I just a few days ago discovered your website. Of course the first page of your website that shows up on my screen is a picture of all makes and manners of the most delicious and decadent CHOCOLATE DESERTS that I have ever seen. So of course “you had me at hello”. :)

Anyway, I enjoyed listening to your interview with Greg and hearing about his background. I am African-American and have been cooking most of my life. At 53 I now have found myself attempting to teach the Culinary Arts as a profession to high school students in a predominantly African-American community in Palm Beach County, Florida.

About half of my studetns are Haitian immigrants, with the rest being African-American, Hispanic, Asian and White. Of course I would love to have a copy of the book for myself but I would rather have it to share with my students, as cooking recipes of immigrants is a good part of what we do. I try to learn about the culture of my students through recipes and the food that is a part of their daily lives and give back to them my knowledge and skill born of a heritage of African-American cooking mixed with New York cooking school in the 70’s and completing my studies with a Bachelors in Hotel Restuarnt Mgmt and spending a summer in Paris working and cooking at Anne Willan’s La Varenne Cooking School.

I look forward to becoming intimate with you website and conversing with you about everything food and especially all things chocolate. To me chocolate is almost better than sex,if not just as wonderful and satisfying.

Keep up the great work. Val Schuster, valschuster@gmail.com

10. by valschuster on Feb 6, 2008 at 7:47 PM PST

Hi Kim, sorry for writing a book. I think Ihave an alter ego that wants to be a food writer. Valerie

11. by johnette on Feb 7, 2008 at 6:43 AM PST

Sounds like an incredible cookbook. Very unusual!

12. by Steve on Feb 7, 2008 at 1:42 PM PST

With so much food these days becoming overprocessed, bland and homogenized, its good to see that some people still cherish the joys you can get from baking for your family. These immigrant recipes would definitely be a great way to teach people about new cultures and have some delicious treats along the way! The book sounds wonderful: part cookbook, part journey around the world!

13. by silverbele on Feb 7, 2008 at 6:43 PM PST

My mother made stuffed cabbage. As a child i didn’t like them but as an adult I like them. So I tried to make them and matched my mother’s recipie from memory.

14. by Debbie on Feb 7, 2008 at 10:26 PM PST

This book sounds great--cultural preservation & celebration, and tasty, too! It makes me wish that I had inherited the recipes and stories from my ancestors--what a treasure that would be.

15. by ruth_117 on Feb 8, 2008 at 11:33 AM PST

I love my old family cookbook with all the family tree’s in it. I realized I came from a long line of good cooks (and now I have to live up to the heritage!!) I would love to try out some recipes from around the world!!

16. by toowylde on Feb 9, 2008 at 11:00 PM PST

Looks fascinating. I love visiting restaurants of different immigrants, and would love to try to cook some of these dishes at home.

17. by aleact on Feb 10, 2008 at 5:11 PM PST

beautiful. I love to travel and ask people about their mother’s recipes. Sometimes it works really well, but many times the younger generation doesn’t really cook

18. by Kathy on Feb 11, 2008 at 1:18 AM PST

We do a culture night once a month. The kids pick a country/coulture, we decorate the dining room, they each have to learn one thing about the culture and talk about it at dinner..then the food is all along theme. This would be a great addition to our night.

19. by gabrieljoz on Feb 11, 2008 at 5:24 AM PST

As a first generation American from Hungary, I appreciate this cookbook that passes along dishes that reflect the pride and traditions of many countries.

20. by SandraLynn128 on Feb 11, 2008 at 10:22 AM PST

I love the concept of immigrant recipes...Have recently been putting together recipes brought to this country from my ancestors.

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