Mark Stevens to bring spice, culture to Chicory Market

Posted on Feb 16 2018 - 7:59am by Holly Hicks

“Cooking with Spices” author Mark C. Stevens will stop by Oxford at the Chicory Market to promote his new cookbook this Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2:00 p.m.

The greatest feature about any spice is that it transforms whatever dish that is being prepared into a culinary masterpiece. A culture is directly related to its food, and travelling the world can be the greatest influence to a remarkable dish. 

Mark C. Stevens feeds from cultures’ culinary staples to influence his cookbook. Stevens was taught to cook by his Italian mother and grandmother, and he inherited a thirst for travelling the world from his aunt. Last year, Stevens travelled to every single continent, including Antarctica.

When he is not jetting around the world and discovering new ways to doctor up simple dishes, Mark C. Stevens lives in New Orleans, where he works on films and TV shows as an assistant director. Stevens has worked on Dallas Buyer’s Club, Beasts of No Nation, and Beyonce’s Lemonade.

“I travelled quite bit last year, and so many of the folks I’ve met have contributed recipes for the book. As far as spices go, travelling, living in New Orleans and the people I met in almost every continent were my influence,” he said.

This will not be first time Mark C. Stevens has been to Oxford. He said he looking forward to the BBQ, the Oxford Square, the book stores and restaurants, as well as seeing a Mississippian named Martha Foofe. Foofe was a big influence on how Stevens went about writing the book.

Stevens said that the people he has met along the road are some of his greatest influences for Cooking with Spices.

When asked what his favorite dish featured in “Cooking with Spices” is, Stevens said he thinks many of them are good.

“I would say probably the one I’ve made the most: the Blackberry Sumac Agrodolce. It’s on the European chapter, page 235. You can make the most wonderful marinade and sauce that can go with almost anything. It keeps well and provides a sweet flavor to pork chops or really anything.”

Stevens’ cookbook features over 100 recipes for sauces, rubs and blends that are simple enough to be used everyday. It also includes a “Spice 101” that delves into the details on what regions these spices come from as well as their significance in their culture of origin. Medicinal uses of various spices are also included with “Spice 101,” and there is even a section devoted to the many complements and pairs of simple spices that are used globally.

Some recipes in “Cooking with Spices” include a Chinese five-spice blend, South Pacific honey backcountry chimichurri sauce, Sicilian saffron sauce, and more.  This complete reference-style cookbook provides recipes “with a pinch of history” that can bring any dish to life through balancing a multitude of spices and flavors.