Last month I was invited to participate in the blogging collective “Kwanzaa Culinarians“. Linking writers throughout the African diaspora it includes such heavyweights as Chef Bryant Terry, as well as known foodies like Sanura of “My Life Runs On Food“, Courtney of “Coco Cooks” and Chrystal & Amir of “The Duo Dishes“. Needless to say, I took it as quite a compliment to be included and didn’t hesitate to confirm my willingness to ‘rep’ our region!
Like many of the participants, I had little prior knowledge of Kwanzaa. My assignment of “Umoja” was a journey of not only self-reflection but also deeper research into what the festival embodies for today’s celebrants. I invite you to take a look at my essay which also includes my recipe for ‘Ochro Rice’.
The idea of a regularly shared dining space with family and loved ones may seem archaic or impractical in today’s fast-paced world, however I think the need for emotional and intellectual connection, ‘breaking bread’, is something that Umoja seeks to highlight. Although in some ways we are more connected than ever before (Facebook, Twitter), these tools often reduce us to ‘surface sharers’, something that communal mealtime seeks to eliminate.
Few things are as healing and unifying as truly hearing another person’s story. I have found that in front of an array of good food and drink generation gaps can dissolve, romance can be rekindled, and cordial acquaintances often discover previously unknown commonalities. As we prepare meals together, and sit and share, we strengthen our homes. As we make more educated food choices we create a ripple effect that strengthens and nourishes our communities.
While you are there do take in some of the past essays and recipes as well. There’s nothing like combining food for the mind with, well… actual food!
Watch me make my Ochro Rice on the January 17,2013 episode of “Sweet Han’: Caribbean Cooking with Sarina”!
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