Watch “Food of the Enslaved: Akara” on YouTube

I loved partnering with Jason Townsend&Sons, my favorite historic clothier and provider of historic goods to produce a few videos for their wildly popular You Tube series on cooking in the 18th century, depicting the influence of enslaved Africans and African Americans in early American cuisine. We prepared these dishes out the historic kitchen at George Mason’s Gunston Hall Plantation in Mason Neck, Virginia. We prepared a version of akara, a black eyed pea fritter which was developed along the lower Guinea Coast among the Igbo, Yoruba and Fon peoples and their neighbors.  Field Pea cakes are included in the first Southern cookbook, The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph. the homeland, akara had the skins removed, here we dont see that. They are also more of a fried cake and less of a puffy fritter than you would see in contemporary West Africa. Those who may not get an opportunity to see me do historic cooking live will certainly enjoy this. I will put up later videos which I will post to Afroculinaria, where we will be demonstrating kush!

Many thanks to Jas.Townsend&co for their generosity and kindness and for the wonderful videos they put together as well as my friends over at Gunston Hall. Many many thanks to all. If you like this post or the videos, feel free to share! Click here to learn more about traditional Nigerian akara. Be sure to pre-order The Cooking Gene!

Posted in African American Food History, African Food Culture, Events and Appearances, Food and Slavery, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Recipes, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kippah-ed While Black: KWB- A Monthly Opinion Column in the Forward

If you don’t know, now you know I’m writing a monthly column for The Forward entitled, Kippah-ed While Black. It’s intention is to draw attention to issues in the lives of African American Jews, through my lens. The first piece is on the unfortunate use of racial epithets among some Jews and the power of those words and how we can deflate them. 

The second piece is about my role as a Hebrew school teacher, one who had to make Black history everyday, just by existing. As Kippah-ed While Black continues, it will keep probing tough topics in Black Jewish relations from the perspective of African American Jews. I invite you to read both pieces and check back into the Forward each month for other installments. 

And yes, eventually we will talk about food. 🙂  I do want to talk about to lifting people up, but the 

Gotta get back to work. I have a recipe I’m developing that will change to your Passover game 🙂

Posted in Events and Appearances, Jewish Stuff, Pop Culture and Pop Food | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

IWatch “Food of the Enslaved: Barbecue” on YouTube

I loved partnering with Jason Townsend&Sons, my favorite historic clothier and provider of historic goods to produce a few videos for their wildly popular You Tube series on cooking in the 18th century, depicting the influence of enslaved Africans and African Americans in early American cuisine. We prepared these dishes out at George Mason’s Gunston Hall Plantation in Mason Neck, Virginia. We prepared two barbecue sauce recipes based on early receipts including one basic sage and red pepper mop from late 18th century Virginia and another from mid 19th century South Carolina. For those who may not get an opportunity to see me do historic cooking live will certainly enjoy this. I will put up later videos which I will post to Afroculinaria, where we will be demonstrating black eyed pea cakes!

Many thanks to Jas.Townsend&co for their generosity and kindness and for the wonderful videos they put together as well as my friends over at Gunston Hall. Many many thanks to all. If you like this post or the videos, feel free to share! Click here to learn more about early barbecue.

Posted in African American Food History, Diaspora Food Culture, Events and Appearances, Food and Slavery, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Recipes, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Make this for your Valentine, You will get some Loving: Caramel/Sea Salt, Sour Cream/Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Caramel/Sea Salt Glazed Sour-Cream/Cream Cheese Pound  Cake

(I’m more a of a cook than a baker but this is pretty damn good…)

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, I prefer unsalted…
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of organic evaporated cane juice (slightly blond colored organic sugar)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I am not brave enough to use cake flour…)
  • 1 tablespoon of homemade Tahitian or Madagascar vanilla essence.
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees; grease and  lightly flour a 10 inch tube pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sour cream and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffed.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour all at once and mix .  Finish off with the vanilla essence.
  4. Pour into a 10 inch tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check for doneness at 1 hour. A wooden skewer inserted into center of will come out clean with a few adhering crumbs.

For the Caramel/Sea Salt Glaze

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar OR 1/4 cup of Muscavado sugar and 1/4 cup of white or organic blond sugar
  • pinch of sea salt (there will be more salt…so watch it…)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of Tahitian or Madagascar vanilla essence

 1.  In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt unsalted butter. 

2.  Add sugar/s and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. 

3.  Add PINCH of sea salt and cream; bring to a boil over medium heat. 

4.  Cook and stir for another two minutes. Cool for 15 minutes; gently drizzle over the pound cake, and finish off with  several pinches of large flaked sea salt. 

Posted in Pop Culture and Pop Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Response to Justin’s Query: Not a Sermon, Just a Fact-Check

So here at http://www.Afroculinaria.com we love debate.  We love respectful discussion and I believe that’s what I got from a reader named Justin.  In response to my post of Oldway’s African Heritage Pyramid and ingredients suggestion list, Justin gave this pointed, but respectful, query about the post and its contents:

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Okay so let’s really dig into what’s bugging Justin.  1. American and Asian crops incorporated into the pyramid and list are not African and therefore should be attributed as such.  2.  This website quote-un-quote, is all about “culinary justice,” for Africans and African Americans but (curiously–isn’t that the right word here?) seems to not be so down for culinary justice for other people of color—especially Native American and Asian populations.  3. Here it comes–yes Africans and the African Diaspora “deserve much more credit” but 4. If we are going to talk origins “we” should “at least” be accurate.

Justin could be any pheno or geno type of the human race so we aren’t going to assume anything about Justin based on that criteria.  We just want to simply look at his points and respond to his query.   His points are very fair so no shade, let’s address them—

  1.  Nobody reputable falsely attributes tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, corn etc. to African origins.  Rather, it is more factually stated that Africans incorporated ingredients from around the globe across 3 millenia into an ethnobotanical system that incorporated 2-3,000 edible plant species, domestic, wild and semi-wild. In other words, pre-colonial Africans incorporated American species largely on the basis of their similarity to food plants they already had some familiarity with due to similarity in appearance as human beings often innately seek commonalities in appearance and genus before taking a leap with new flora.  However, in the same way that very few Americans would ever second-guess that broccoli is a European and fairly recent addition to Chinese cuisine or have assumed Native American origins for Appalachian sorghum, many foods of Native American origins have become incorporated across the Atlantic in ways that are so endemic nobody in living memory can distinguish between the days before corn (Zea mays) and the days after.  The revolutionary response of the planet to the produce of the indigenous American garden is unmistakable and undeniable and I think neither this blog nor Oldways attempted to obscure, annihilate or deny that rather obvious fact.
  2. That ingredients from “off” have an African life of their own is no different from the way other ingredients or food traditions have played out in non-indigenous contexts .  That Israelis make “Hodu,” or turkey (Meleagris pavo) into shwarma and shnitzel in large quantities doesn’t really speak to Native American cultural politics or issues and doesn’t really affect the bottom line for the Cherokee, the Abenaki, the Quechua or Nahuatl.   Culinary justice is not merely about attribution.  Its about the whole complex of ideas about how an oppressed people’s foodways as a form of cultural capital is utilized to their advantage.  It isn’t about claiming territory or zealously guarding achievements, those are ideational impediments imposed by those from the outside looking in and casting a simplistic gaze on our attempt to re-claim power.
  3. This website is not a mule for everybody’s stuff.  Let’s make that clear.  It’s my responsibility to have a focus and my focus is African American, African, and African Diaspora foodways.  At the same time, from that center I relate the reader to the fact that this is not about what people have African descent have solely done on their own without outside interaction.  That’s not just culturally chauvinist but intellectually dishonest and shuts down any sort of multicultural or intersectional discourse.  I work hard to attribute things to their source and also to show how commonalities in food are narratives that give us a bridge to one another.  Because of my work I’ve have the privilege to meet chefs like Ed Lee, Roy Choi, Sean Sherman, Brian Yazzie, Vivian Howard, among others who while they don’t share my cultural background, we support and enhance each other’s journey to make social justice a primary ingredient in our approach to food.  Through public dialogue, cooking together and creating bonds off camera we are doing the real work to build community over the idea of recognition, empowerment and amplification for all.
  4. I fully expect people to assume that I’m an angry Afrocentric know it all who needs to be held to some standards of scholarly soundness no matter how well-intentioned or captivating my end-goal.  That kind of person is easy to dismiss, deconstruct and intellectually dismantle.  But basically, that’s really just a stereotype and one that I have had to wrestle with over and over again, not because I live up to it, but because assumptions are made without adequate research into my lens.   Its disappointing because on this very site are examples that I am not guilty of turning a blind eye to other cultures and their important role in shaping the food traditon I love and the ways people of African descent have shown intuitive culinary genius, drive and native ingenuity in how they have related to the foodways and ingredients of other peoples.
  5. My blog isn’t a hotbed of “reverse racism,” in fact its a place where I try to foment racial reconciliation and healing and open dialogue while centering my thought and voice from the perspective of my culture.  I am glad I was able to answer to your concerns and hope that you feel more confident about this blog as a source of entertainment as well as a resource for factual information.  We have no “alternative facts” here at Afroculinaria.
  6. Everybody buy my book now: its on pre-order: Amazon!

 

Posted in African American Food History, African Food Culture, Cultural Politics, Diaspora Food Culture, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Scholars, Elders and Wise Folk, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Watch “Food of the Enslaved: Okra Soup” on YouTube

I loved partnering with Jason Townsend&Sons, my favorite historic clothier and provider of historic goods to produce a few videos for their wildly popular You Tube series on cooking in the 18th century, depicting the influence of enslaved Africans and African Americans in early American cuisine. We prepared these dishes out at George Mason’s Gunston Hall Plantation in Mason Neck, Virginia. We prepared a simple okra soup based on early receipts including that of “Queen Molly,” herself, also known as Mary Randolph, author of the first Southern cookbook, The Virginia Housewife, and other recipes of the late 18th and early 19th century. For those who may not get an opportunity to see me do historic cooking live will certainly enjoy this. I will put up later videos which I will post to Afroculinaria, we will be demonstrating an early barbecue sauce and black eyed pea cakes!

Many thanks to Jas.Townsend&co for their generosity and kindness and for the wonderful videos they put together as well as my friends over at Gunston Hall. Many many thanks to all. If you like this post or the videos, feel free to share!

Posted in African American Food History, African Food Culture, Diaspora Food Culture, Events and Appearances, Food and Slavery, Food Philosophy at Afroculinaria, Heirloom Gardening/Heritage Breeds and Wildcrafting, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Recipes, Scholars, Elders and Wise Folk, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The African Heritage Food Pyramid

I want to start Black History Month off right, sharing with you the Oldways African Heritage Food Pyramid. Oldways has worked the past few years to create content that gears communities of color toward better eating habits and health patterns based in and on the traditional diets of Latin America, South and East Asia, Africa and her Diaspora and the Middle East and Mediterranean.

For my purposes I discourage gluten intake, dairy intake and white potatoes. Doesn’t mean I don’t eat them, I just work to curtail them in my daily diet. These foods simply weren’t common or traditional to the West and Central diet in the days of contact. When I limit these foods my body feels better. Utilize the food pyramid as a guide to begin to navigate how you want to eat to live.

Note: the leafy greens, black eyed peas, rice, fresh fruit, spices, high water intake and the cute sweet potato pie up top!


If you want to learn more about Oldways:

Let’s Connect!
Web: oldwayspt.org
Facebook: facebook.com/oldwayspt
Twitter: twitter.com/oldwayspt
Instagram: instagram.com/oldways_pt
Pinterest: pinterest.com/oldways

Posted in Diaspora Food Culture, Elders and Wise Folk, Food Philosophy at Afroculinaria, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Publications, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments