Even if you don't know it, Ziggy Marley has probably appeared on the soundtrack of your life. The eldest of Bob Marley's children and one of Jamaica's favorite sons, Ziggy has had his own illustrious music career, collecting seven Grammy Awards and an Emmy, along with cementing himself in the minds of millions of children with the theme song he wrote and performed for the '90s cartoon Arthur. Over the past few years though, he’s brought to the forefront one of his lifelong passions: food.
Beginning with the launch of Ziggy Marley Organics in 2012, which includes a line of GMO-free coconut oils and hempseed snacks, Ziggy has focused on and promoting a healthier, more delicious lifestyle. He explores this passion in full in his new cookbook, Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook: Delicious Meals Made with Whole, Organic Ingredients From the Marley Kitchen.
Filled with recipes inspired by his Jamaican upbringing, his wife’s Persian-Israeli heritage and contributions from chef friends including Ben Ford, Bruce Sherman, Leonie McDonald and Ricardo A. Rodríguez, Ziggy’s cookbook is designed to nourish the body, mind, and soul. We chatted with him about the importance of healthy food, family life and, of course, music.
On food's role in his Jamaican upbringing
For me when I look back now, food wasn’t like a big thing; we started out with less food. But on Sundays, we always had a cooked meal, a special meal. You know, it’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality. When I first learned to cook, I learned to cook eggs, and it made me feel independent. I felt free. That was one of the best experiences in my life.
On the multi-cultural makeup of his recipes
In my house now, food is a ritual. My wife Orly's culture is very family oriented... She's Persian and Israeli, so there are lots of family get-togethers. Over time, I've recognized how much food is a part of togetherness. I think we share a commonality, even though the cultures are different. We just like healthy eating, good food, real food. We love food that when you eat it, you feel good that you’re eating it. I think that runs true for both of our cultures, that what you put into your body is important.
On the public pecreption of Jamaican cuisine
When we used to go to the country as kids, we'd eat simple things, like roast yam. In America, they don’t eat a lot of ground food. They eat potatoes, but we have such a variety of food, and yams, in Jamaica. Yellow yam, white yam, all different types of yams. You just roast the yams simply. When we went to the country, there were always pit stops where you could get the real country food, which is nothing like the city food. Curry goat, jerk chicken, all of that is city food. They’re two separate things and most people don’t know the country food, the roasted yams and other simple, healthy things.
On his father's presence in the kitchen
My dad is a part of me so I don’t ever really think about him when I cook. I am him and he is me and we are always connected. All of us are connected, physical and spiritual, DNA and all of that good stuff. I don’t have to think much. I just have.
On his famed Arthur theme making a triumphant comeback via Chance the Rapper
[Laughing] It’s good, it’s good. Children really liked that song. There’s just something about it that people love and people remember. I don’t know about Chance, I don’t know why Chance took it up, but he had to bring it back around right now. It's good that he did, that Chance the Rapper.
On the upcoming 40th anniversay release of his father's seminal album, Exodus
I took the rarities and just mixed it over with fresh ears, my ears, a different perspective and some different vocals. There are a lot of surprises in there actually. Some of them sound like totally different songs, so fresh. If you made the songs today, they’d be mixed differently and would have some different vocal takes and it would sound like a whole new thing, which is what I like about it. We recut one of the songs with a new band, so now it’ll be Bob playing with some guys that I put together here. But I didn’t want to mess with it too much. It’s not a remix, it’s not a dance remix. It’s the same songs—one is a different version than the original—but it’s a regular mix. And for people that haven’t heard the album before, maybe this will be the version that they hear first and like.