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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Coconut and Ginger: Raleigh mom intermingles Caribbean heritage, U.S. life in new cookbook

Posted May 21
Updated May 22

Brigid Washington's original career path was journalism. After graduating from N.C. State, she moved to New York to work at Child Magazine as an editorial assistant.

She returned to Raleigh a year later, where she was able to continue her work for Child and cultivated a growing interest in the world of food. Eventually, a conversation at Bloomsbury Bistro, a fine dining restaurant in Raleigh's Five Points, set her on a new course that would eventually lead to the Culinary Institute of America.

After graduating from the CIA, Washington worked as a restaurant consultant before having her first child three years ago. Now, six months after the birth of her daughter, she's spreading the word about her latest project - a cookbook called “Coconut. Ginger. Shrimp. Rum.: Caribbean Flavors for Every Season."

Washington will be at the Barnes & Noble at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh on June 3 and WHISK in Cary on June 23. I chatted with her by email to learn more about her work, her book and her tips for busy moms trying to get dinner on the table.

Go Ask Mom: You grew up in Trinidad. Tell us about your childhood food memories.

Brigid Washington: In Trinidad, food continues to be a representation of the cultures and ethnicities that formed the island. Our dinners were edible geography, simply by way of having a very ethnically diverse country. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was extraordinarily exciting to be naturally immersed in global “fusion” cuisine before it was trendy. One of the most salient food memories is the bread pudding my mom and I would make on a Sunday afternoon. Every now and then, I replicate that memory for my family and the process always (always) has a warm enveloping nostalgia.

GAM: You worked in magazines for a while, but your career shifted toward cooking when you moved back to Raleigh. Why did you make the transition - and how?

BW: I lived in Five Points at the time and every day, driving home from work, I would notice Bloomsbury Bistro. One day, I walked in and communicated my desire to learn more about this all-encompassing world of food. Chef Toler saw beyond my shaky words and allowed me to access to the kitchen. I worked for free, after my 9-5. Within a year, I quit my day job and worked full time at Bloomsbury. It was my first big calculated risk and it paid off.

GAM: You have a cookbook out. What's it all about? What kind of recipes does it feature?

BW: The book brings two worlds together through four ingredients. My Caribbean heritage and my current life in the United States are intermingled in 80 recipes that are all heavily tethered to the seasons. The recipes are approachable, fun and 100 percent doable (let’s remember, I wrote the book when I was massively pregnant) Ha!

GAM: As a mom of two young kids, has your cooking at home changed? If so, how? Do you have tips for moms trying to get food on the table?

BW: Yes! My cooking have definitely changed. My biggest tip would be not to segregate “snack food” from real food. Early on, I was resolute to instill in Luke, who turns three this week, a love of vegetables and a plate that is as colorful as his Lego blocks. His snacks continue to be fresh fruit and vegetables. And, when eating produce is normal, there isn’t any room for alternatives.

GAM: What are you working on now?

BW: I’m working on marketing the book, keeping all the balls in the air and attempting to carve out weekly “self-care." And honestly sometimes my self-care is watching Jeopardy with a glass of sparkling rose.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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