Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) author of How to Cook a Crocodile: A Memoir with Recipes– the first book published by the Peace Corps Writers Book imprint!– who is also a blogger on this site at: Cooking Crocodiles & Other Food Musings has just received three prestigious awards from Gourmand International. Her book’s awards were in the categories of Food Literature, African Cuisine (Gabon), and Charity and Community (North America).
The 16-year-old organization Gourmand International, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, publishes GOURMAND magazine and sponsors the Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards, held in a different world capital each year. The 2011 awards will be presented on March 6, 2012, at the Folies Bergère in Paris, kicking off the weeklong Paris Cookbook Fair. Black plans to attend the awards ceremony and book fair in Paris.
Among the organization’s stated objectives are “to reward and honor those who cook with words,” and “to increase knowledge of, and respect for, food and wine culture, which promotes peace.” One of the jurors of the awards is Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of the Boston-based foundation Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust.
Black, a former writer and editor in New York City, who also had her own catering business there for ten years, decided to leave New York and join the Peace Corps at the age of 50 in the mid-’90s. How to Cook a Crocodileis her account of that time – from caterer to Manhattan’s elite to health-and-nutrition volunteer in the rainforest of Gabon – written, as author Cherie Burns has noted, with “perspective, warmth, and wit.”
“We enter her world,” says Burns of Black’s Crocodile, “with the initial thrill of discovery and then fall in love, as she did, with the world she describes. What truly seduces us is experiencing it through Black’s fine prose and her expert storytelling.”
Like M.F.K. Fisher’s classic WWII-era book How to Cook a Wolf, Black’s How to Cook a Crocodile comprises a lively, literary, present-day survival guide.
Bonnie Lee Black is the author also of Somewhere Child (Viking Press) as well as the sequel to Crocodile, Patchwork: A Memoir of Mali, not yet published. Last September, Black’s Patchwork manuscript won first place in the Memoir Book category in the SouthWest Writers annual awards in Albuquerque.
Black is an honors graduate of Columbia University in New York. She holds a blue-ribbon diploma from the New York Cooking School (now ICE) and also studied cooking at La Varenne École de Cuisine, then in Paris. In 2007 she earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles. She now teaches in both the English and Culinary Arts departments at UNM-Taos. For more information, go to www.bonnieleeblack.com.