For centuries, letters have been the pinnacle expression of love and friendship. This year, Eat the Culture’s virtual cookout brings love letters and food together in one unique collaboration.
Eat the Culture is a collective created by Meiko Temple from Meiko and the Dish to empower the Black food content creators, storytellers, and tastemakers that champion Black foodways. Fresh on the heels of their pioneering Black History Month Virtual Potluck, the collective has put digital pens to paper for this year’s Juneteenth Cookout in the form of love letters.
June 19th commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans as Union Army General Gordon Granger read out General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas, in 1865. Despite being celebrated within the Black community for well over 150 years, Juneteenth was only recently declared a federal holiday in June 2021. In a sea of impending commercialism of a beloved holiday within the African American community, a group of 19—symbolic of the day —gathered virtually to pay homage to the scribes of the Black culinary world.
Participants from around the country selected cherished cookbooks written by Black authors and created inspired recipes to share with the world. Seasoned cookbook authors like Toni Tipton Martin are featured alongside food scholars like Michael Twitty and the author of the very first Juneteenth Cookbook, Nicole A. Taylor.
This eclectic list of recipes runs the gamut of cuisines, from Charity Morgan’s vegan buffalo cheezy fries to Rodney Scott’s grilled pork steaks.
Wrapped within these Juneteenth recipes is a proclamation of love from writer to writer. This Juneteenth Virtual Cookout celebrates some of the recipes that built America and new, unique recipes to fall in love with.
19 Juneteenth Recipes to Fall in Love With
- Grape Tarragon Gin Spritzers inspired by Bryant Terry’s “Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora.”
“Bryant Terry’s ‘Black Food’ is an anthology of the heart. He’s managed to curate a collection of writing and recipes that evoke a worldwide family reunion. This grape tarragon spritzer is delicate yet bold in flavor, symbolic of the Black culture. We’re not shy about living out loud.” — Sense and Edibility®
- Rum Rum Punch from Marcus Samulesson’s The Red Rooster Cookbook
“Marcus’s African roots are the connective tissue that has solidified my admiration for who and what he is. My cocktail contribution was inspired by the rum rum punch taken from Marcus Samuelsson’s “The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem.” With the addition of dried hibiscus flowers, I have created a cocktail worthy of being shared with friends and family as we celebrate this year’s Juneteenth.”
- All-Green Everything Salad with Creamy Sage Dressing from “Vegetable Kingdom” by Bryant Terry
“Bryant Terry’s ‘Vegan Soul Kitchen’ was the first-ever vegan cookbook I bought when I transitioned to a vegan diet six years ago. I now own three of his books and have made countless recipes from each book. It’s an honor to be one of Bryant’s longtime supporters.”
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Merguez sausage and Chaklaka (South African Chow Chow) inspired by “In Bibi’s Kitchen “by Hawa Hassan
“This grilled cheese sandwich with spicy vegetable relish is inspired by the chakalaka and cheddar braaribroodjies recipe from Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen ‘In Bibi’s Kitchen’ cookbook. I believe this is a great recipe to bring to the Juneteenth celebration. I was an ambassador for the City of New Orleans in Durban, South Africa, and I connected with the culture instantly.”
“I chose Rodney Scott's ‘World of BBQ’ because I identify with the struggle of being a traditionalist while championing non-conformity both in the context of the world of food as well as life. Brother Scott is true to his roots and his craft in every sense of the word, but in order to grow as a pitmaster, father, leader, businessman, etc. he understood you not only have to push boundaries that take you beyond your comfort zone, but you also have to make really hard choices including leaving some things and people behind.”
- Jamaican Beef Patty from “My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef” by Kwame Onwuachi, Joshua David Stein
“I chose chef Kwame Onwauchi’s cookbook, ‘My America,’ because he is an amazing culinary professional who advocates for diverse cuisines and voices. His debut cookbook is educational, soulful and reflective of African and Caribbean traditions. Cooking his Jamaican beef patty was an honor and I learned so much about this dish’s history because of him.”
“I chose ‘Cooking Solo’ because it was one of the first Black-owned cookbooks I purchased for myself and it really helped me in grad school. Klancy's recipes are so creative, and it showed me that meals for one do not have to be boring, unhealthy or overly complicated. Her recipes and this cookbook were a very early inspiration to what is now Coined Cuisine!”
“When I think of the quote, ‘I am my ancestors wildest dreams,’ I think of culinarian Michael Twitty, his documented culinary journey in ‘The Cooking Gene’—spanning from America to Africa— and the telling of our ancestors' stories in a way that had not been told before. As I started to become more interested in my family’s generational ways of cooking, his book was a huge inspiration in my own culinary journey, which ultimately goes beyond cooking food but embracing the history of my family, honoring the kin I have never known and those I may never meet, and basking in the connection Black food has across the diaspora and beyond.”
“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, ‘Son of a Southern Chef’ was one of the first cookbooks I had the pleasure of purchasing from a Black chef from my community. His vibrant and whimsical photography and inventive takes on recipes of his childhood showcase how he is able to bring his full self to his food. The authenticity and heart that he brings to each of his recipes have empowered me to be more bold and unapologetic in the content I bring forth.”
“Kevin Bludso’s new cookbook, ‘Bludso’s BBQ: A Family Affair in Smoke and Soul,’ resonated with Marrekus and Krysten of Cooks with Soul because not only are they southern barbecue enthusiasts, but Krysten’s mother also grew up in Compton, California — the same city Kevin was born and raised in. Kevin’s memoir truly is a ‘family affair,’ which makes it even more special to the husband-and-wife team.”
“I identify with Charity's story. Like Charity, I am examining the health benefits of plant-based eating by slowly incorporating more fresh vegetables into my diet. The recipes in ‘Unbelievably Vegan’ use spices and sauces to build flavor. Charity teaches us how to make classic homecooked dishes using vegan ingredients, from creamy macaroni and cheese to gooey caramel-covered sticky buns.”
“Jenné's vegan soul food recipes are simple, creative and wildly delicious with a modern, healthy twist on classic dishes. I chose to make her purple and white potato salad because in Black families, only the best cooks are allowed to bring the potato salad to the cookout and hers did not disappoint.”
“I chose ‘Carla Hall's Soul Food” because Carla is an amazing chef who has a southern background that is reflected in her food. I had the pleasure of being on an episode of ‘The Chew’ as a judge four years ago, and seeing her in person was the highlight of my career. Her cooking style embodies the soulful recipes of the Juneteenth celebration and I am so honored to be able to recreate her blackberry peach crumble pie.”
“I chose ‘Watermelon & Red Birds’ because it is a celebration of Juneteenth foods. Nicole blends storytelling, history, and world-class cooking in a cookbook that I hope to pass down through generations.”
“I've followed Vallery's work for a while now and I love the way she connects her incredible recipes to the story of her family history, her childhood in Louisiana, her life as a practicing attorney in Manhattan, and her remarkable determination to find success in food media. And especially as a fellow attorney-turned-baking blogger, ‘Life Is What You Bake It’ was such an inspiring read. I chose to make a 6-inch cake version of Vallery's red velvet sheet cake, linking her baking history with the Juneteenth tradition as a whole and with my own love for small batch cakes.”
“I fell in love with Cheryl Day's cookbook the moment I read her dedication. ‘To pay homage to all of the enslaved women who didn't get credit for their recipes because they couldn't read or write.’ The narratives and stories elevate this cookbook to an oral history of southern baking. My pig pickin' cake is a nod to an authentic southern summer BBQ dessert.”
“When I initially started blogging, Joycelyn was one of the few Black food bloggers I was aware of. I am so inspired by her and her work, and I’m honored that I get to represent her red velvet cake in this year’s Juneteenth lineup. She was actually one of the first bloggers that made me believe that I could actually turn my passion into a career.”
“Jubilee is a celebration of culture and foods and how they intersect in taste, flavor, joy and love. From the beautiful dishes to delectable baked goods, I've made my fair share of recipes from this book and would be remiss not to celebrate this treasury of food for Juneteenth. This book embodies freedom through culinary expression and is the perfect culmination of recipes to rejoice!”
“Before there was a Julia Child or Martha Stewart, there was Lena Richard, a trailblazing culinary hero with an empire that spans across restaurants, catering, frozen food, television and education. I want to pay homage to her legacy and book, ‘The New Orleans Cookbook,’ because of her achievements in celebrating the Black roots of Creole cooking throughout her work.”
Need more Juneteenth Joy in your life? This year’s Eat the Culture Juneteenth Virtual Cookout culminates on Monday, June 20 at our Juneteenth Joy Celebration on Eventbrite. We’ll have a cocktail demo, inspiring performances, and a wrap up of our holiday festivities. Registration is free via this link.
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