February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of the contributions of African American people in the United States. Food is central to all cultures, and the African diaspora is no exception. If you are unfamiliar with the term, the African diaspora describes how people were dispersed across North, South, and Central America centuries ago. That means that the food we celebrate this month ranges from American cooking to Caribbean cuisine to South American Afro-Hispanic food and everything in between.
In Massachusetts, 12.4% of people identify as Black alone. Another 10% of people identify as two or more races, which may include identifying as Black. Knowing this, and the fact that the African diaspora extends up and down the Americas, there are many cultures to celebrate this Black History Month. Sharing food is a key component of African heritage, and cooking traditionally significant foods can connect you even more to this rich culture. There are many amazing recipes here on the MA SNAP-Ed website that are inspired by African, Caribbean, and African American cultures. Try some of the suggested ones below or do your own search on the Recipes page.
Recipes to Try
Here are a few favorite recipes that you can try to add some variety to your home cooking this month. All are inspired by African or African American cooking. If you are looking for more ideas, check out the Multicultural Recipes (found by clicking “Topics” in the center search filter) on the Recipes page. Please also note that most culturally inspired recipes on the MA SNAP-Ed website are simply inspired. Your personal experience, upbringing, and cultural heritage may call for changes in these recipes. If that is the case, feel free to modify recipes so they stay true to you and your culture!
Hoppin John is an African American dish traditionally made for New Year’s Day, but February is also a time to celebrate and try this dish. The ingredients in Hoppin John symbolize luck, specifically, the peas and greens represent coins and money. Honor this significant month with a special meal full of essential nutrients.
Confetti Pepper Cornbread is a fantastic supplement to any meal. Cornbread is a foundational component of African American cooking, and this version is amped up with some hot peppers. You can add more or less pepper depending on how spicy you like your food but be sure to have some for a fun kick to your cornbread.
Slow Cook Barbecue is a time commitment, but it is worth the effort. This recipe has the meat simmering for 3-5 hours, which will fill your home with a delicious smell. Cooking this alongside some Confetti Pepper Cornbread and a green salad makes a tasty, well-rounded meal. Plus, this recipe can serve a whole family and likely result in leftovers!
West African Peanut Stew originated in Mali and is a beautiful tribute to West African culture. This vegan recipe is sure to please anyone at your table. The blend of spices and reliance on peanut butter creates a delicious broth that is perfect over rice. If you or someone you plan to serve has a peanut allergy, feel free to replace the peanut butter with a different nut butter of your choice.
So Much to Celebrate
Black History Month has been celebrated for almost 50 years, and for great reasons. The cultural contributions from Black-identifying people over the centuries have influenced American culture in many ways. These recipes, and so many others, are just a small reflection of how African-influenced culture has shaped the food culture of the United States. We at MA SNAP-Ed appreciate knowing the history behind the delicious dishes on our website. We hope you can try a recipe or two to celebrate Black History Month with us.
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