This Sunday at 6pm a group of people, some of whom have never meet; will gather together at one dinner table laden with cornbread, braised pork, rice grits and red peas. Yet the deeper part of it all, is the diversity of the people who fill those chairs.
If only that was the same within this food media community. As I peruse a lot of these sites it’s troubling, hardly anything that is written seems to really resonate with me. In all honesty, the lack of diversity, the constant exclusion of different cultural impacts on this culinary atmosphere, really makes it hard to keep posting and writing every week.
I refuse to conform to the mold to be accepted..
Food has had a different influence on me then what I did this week, or my issues with the weather. So I try to relate that in stories about food and my beloved, complicated south.
So when people write about the south and romanticize places that are downtrodden in poverty and disenfranchisement and this is published and highlighted over and over, completely missing the effect the people and environment has had on the food. It’s disheartening.
Design Sponge highlighted a stellar group of African American chefs, artist, writers and entrepreneurs. It’s truly something special and shines a beautiful light on their achievements, a lot of whom I call friends. If only others would take note. If only there was a little more inclusion around the media dinner table. A collective of people telling about the food they eat, study, love and breathe. Instead, it all looks the same, and that same looks nothing like me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are those that captivate me every time they hit publish.. But it’s just..
It’s not enough..
I’ve gotten a lot of question about the cornbread in my post about Sunday’s Dinner.. I can’t help but laugh because it’s a very old recipe that my Aunt Mabel made every Sunday, that my great grandma made every Sunday, that her grandma made every Sunday, you want me to keep going? (I can) Unfortunately as good as this cornbread is, I can’t hold a candle what she used to put on the table, wrapped in an old tea towel. But it’s close.
The cornbread debate is one that I’ve touched on before. The recipe listed adds sugar and I chuckle to myself when people write how “unsouthern” sweet cornbread is. That is far from the truth. The enslaved Africans that worked on southern plantations were often not awarded desserts and such. Instead they ate molasses (long sweetin) with their corn pone and ash cakes. After emancipation, the recipe evolved – much like the people -and the sweetener became an ingredient rather than an accouterment. So while the recipe below many be considered unsouthern to some, they seem to overlook the history that it has to others. Down here in my beloved, complicated south.
Quick shout out to those that continuously rsvp to eat at our table, it’s small but mighty. My gal pal Kenan and I truly are thankful for ya. We bonded over our love of food, the betterment of our community and the South. Despite the complete differences in our cultural backgrounds, our experience around the Sunday Dinner table were the same. It’s connected us, showcasing how one’s perspective can change when everyone is included, when you really get to know those that you’d might otherwise overlook.
*All ovens are not created equal, I’ve learned this the hard way. Test your cornbread after about 15 minutes. Because one that is definitely unsouthern is dry cornbread.*
Aunt Mabel’s Cornbread Recipe
Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 25-30 mins Yield 8 servings
1 ½ cup yellow cornmeal (not self rising)
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350
Place 9in cast iron skillet in the oven.
In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Stir in buttermilk, eggs and butter until just combined. Batter will be lumpy.
Remove skillet from the oven and pour the batter into the skillet (it will sizzle, this is fine, this is expected, this will lead to crusty edges that can act as spoons) and bake for 25-30 mins.
Or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes before trying to slice.