Our world of foodie culture is vast, and varied, especially in the United States, with the medley of ethnicities and flavors and ideas that make up our “national” cuisine. But what most food obsessives probably don’t realize is from where so many of our food customs derive: Black Americans.
Starting this summer, food and drink historian Tonya Hopkins—who goes by The Food Griot—will be recording stories for The Citizen about the history of African American food and drink in Philadelphia, a chronicle, really, of food in America. Everything from farm to table, fine dining, the development of restaurants and the celebrity chef, have roots in African American culture. After all, as Hopkins said last week on WURD’s Reality Check, where she has started to co-host a WURD/Citizen food segment with host Charles Ellison, “At one point in time, we were the cooks of the nation.”
“I come at food history from a uniquely American lens—by which I mean African American, specifically, as a special group that has a special link to food history,” Hopkins said. “When we talk about black food and black food culture, it’s American food culture because we played such a huge role in food ways in this country.”
On Friday, Hopkins will lead a conversation at Bartram’s Garden’s Sankofa Community Farm, which grows produce from the African diaspora with students and community volunteers, and then sells it at local farmers markets. As part of WURD’s Philly Farm Social, Hopkins will talk with Sankofa co-director Christopher Bolden Newsome, and assistant farmer Laquanda Dobson, a member of the Black Dirt Farm Collective. They will explore the historic and modern worlds of black urban farming, with a focus on the benefits of black diaspora food, culinary arts, healthy community eating and dietary lifestyle habits.
The event will also feature live cooking demonstrations, food tasting and wine pairing.
Listen to Hopkins talking about her work, and the Philly Farm Social, on the Foodizen segment of Reality Check here:
Friday, May 31, 5 pm-7 pm, $15 for ForWurd Members/$25 for non-Members, Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard. Purchase tickets here or by calling 215-425-7875.Photo via Keystoneedge.com