West African fufu. Southern hot water cornbread. Japanese sticky rice. Italian gnocchi. According to chef Carla Hall, these are all cuisine cousins in the global family of food. And in her latest book, Carla’s Comfort Food, she teaches us that some of our favorite down-home eats bear a strong resemblance to dishes served around the world.
“We’re all connected through food, and the dishes in this book show we’re more alike than different,” says Hall, a co-host of ABC’s The Chew. “Sure, I grew up with grits, but it’s served as polenta in Italy.”
Getting inspiration wasn’t hard for Hall, who splits her time between Washington D.C. and New York City, thanks to a case of wanderlust and her überfriendly and nosy nature. “If there was a driver or I was on the train or subway, it didn’t matter; if a person had an accent, I talked to him or her,” she says, laughing. “Asking an individual what his or her favorite dishes were told me so much about that person.” From encounters with East Indians to Afro-Caribbeans, the chef adapted many of their favorite dishes for readers to try at home.