I recently participated in a Community Read event at my local library, (Lower Macungie Library in Macungie, PA), in partnership with Longwood Gardens of Kennett Square, PA. This year’s theme was the connection between food and people, and food and gardening. The book we read was Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, edited and curated by celebrated chef and writer Bryant Terry.
The collection of essays and recipes was a unique exploration of topics such as, the bond between food and culture, food insecurity, the empowerment of taking charge of your food and health, the bounty of gardening, and food as a connector of people, among other topics.
Some of the stories were heart-wrenching. We followed the journey of one slave, ripped from her land, as she described braiding seeds into her hair in order to carry something of her food and culture to an unknown land.
The library, in addition, organized a variety of activities to enhance the reading and learning experience. In keeping with food and gardening, the library supplied planters, soil, and herbs for each of us to decorate our very own potted plant.
A registered dietician gave a talk on the common sense of eating well.
And as part of the book read, we each selected a recipe from the book to make and then share together. Below you can see my choice, Nicole Taylor’s Cocoa-Orange Fish. As she describes it on page 195 of the book, “Cocoa powder transforms both savory and sweet dishes. Its luxurious earthiness adds depth to proteins, like fish.”
I paired the catfish with okra and yams. The beverage is sorrel, also known as hibiscus flowers, with origins in Africa.
Black Food: Stories, Art and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora provides much food for thought (pun intended) and is an enlightening, inspiring, delicious, and empowering read.
And libraries are more than just a collection of books. They broaden our worldview and unite peoples and communities. I hope you enjoy and love your library as much as I appreciate mine!
I’m off for the summer so see you next time on September 22nd!
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