Food and stories enrich Kwanzaa

The eating season has arrived, and there have been plenty of excuses to indulge. This week offers one more. Kwanzaa, a celebration of African-American culture and values, runs Dec. 26 to New Year's Day. A typical Kwanzaa feast includes things like black-eyed peas and ham, sweet-potato pie and benne cakes, a dessert from West Africa.

Many African-American cookbooks have recipes, but one of the best is "Dori Sanders: Country Cooking" (Algonquin Books, $18.95). Sanders is a South Carolina peach farmer and novelist who writes about her family's cooking traditions. Every recipe has a story. For example, "Aunt Vestula's bourbon-laced tipsy chicken with peaches" was adapted from a plantation family dinner.

For more ideas online go to the Kwanzaa area in the holiday section at Global Gourmet.