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Watermelon & Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations
Nicole A. Taylor


The very first cookbook to celebrate Juneteenth, from food writer and cookbook author Nicole A. Taylor--who draws on her decade of experiences observing the holiday.

On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3, informing the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free. A year later, in 1866, Black Texans congregated with music, dance, and BBQs--Juneteenth celebrations.

All-day cook-outs with artful salads, bounteous dessert spreads, and raised glasses of "red drink" are essential to Juneteenth gatherings. In Watermelon and Red Birds, Nicole puts jubilation on the main stage. As a master storyteller and cook, she bridges the traditional African-American table and 21st-century flavors in stories and recipes. Nicole synthesizes all the places we've been, all the people we have come from, all the people we have become, and all the culinary ideas we have embraced.  

Watermelon and Red Birds contains over 75 recipes, including drinks like Afro Egg Cream and Marigold Gin Sour, dishes like Beef Ribs with Fermented Harissa Sauce, Peach Jam and Molasses Glazed Chicken Thighs, Southern-ish Potato Salad and Cantaloupe and Feta Salad, and desserts like Roasted Nectarine Sundae, and Radish and Ginger Pound Cake. Taylor also provides a resource to guide readers to BIPOC-owned hot sauces, jams, spice, and waffle mixes companies and lists fun gadgets to make your Juneteenth special. These recipes and essays will inspire parties to salute one of the most important American holidays, and moments to savor joy all year round.


Nicole A. Taylor is a James Beard Award-nominated food writer, master home cook, and producer. She has written for the New York Times, Bon Appétit, and Food & Wine. Nicole is the author of The Up South Cookbook and The Last O.G. Cookbook. She is the executive producer of If We So Choose, a short documentary about the desegregation of an iconic southern fast food joint. Nicole is the cofounder of The Maroon, a marketplace and retreat house focused on radical rest for Black creatives. She lives in New York City and Athens, Georgia, with her husband and son.


"Watermelon and Red Birds is a call for us all to celebrate Black joy and freedom in its many facets. Nicole Taylor has gifted the world with a breathtaking cookbook that is grounded in history and tradition while keeping one eye on the ever-evolving nature of culture, customs, and foodways. This book reminds us that Black folks should own and drive the way we celebrate our historical milestones, and what better way to do so than over a full plate with family and friends." --Bryant Terry, James Beard award-winning author of Black Food and Editor-in-Chief of 4 Color Books

"Juneteenth is not just about a moment; it's about a celebration of freedom--to choose, to experiment and to enjoy. Nicole Taylor exemplifies soul food as construct rather than canon--a place where dynamic ideas about food keep us grounded in the tradition while unfettering us from the expected and overplayed. The dance she takes us on in our kitchens is a thrill. W atermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations is revolutionary. "--Michael W. Twitty, James Beard Award-winning author of The Cooking Gene, Rice, and Koshersoul

"As with every Nicole Taylor gathering I've attended, Watermelon and Red Birds is vivid with joy and aliveness. The story of Juneteenth that grounds this festive recipe collection celebrates the places we've been and the people we've become. This cookbook, rich with poignant history, refreshing anecdotes, and Taylor's singular ability to convey the global reach of Southern-inspired cuisine, is the spirited guide many of us have been craving. Consider this timely treasure a labor of love for Black American food culture, and an invitation to embrace its evolving ingenuity and creativity all year long."-- Osayi Endolyn, James Beard-Award winning food and culture writer

[H] Simon & Schuster  /  May 31, 2022

0.87" H x 9.21" L x 7.48" W (2.02 lbs) 288 pages