Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora
Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I had the pleasure of being surrounded by beautiful, melanin-rich people throughout my childhood. Through being part of a predominantly African-American community, I have long been privy to both the good and bad issues related to our community. One of the issues that I think about regularly is access to food and hunger. (It sort of fits in naturally with what I’ve chosen for my career.)
Ujima stand for collective work and responsibility, which I interpret as making each other’s problems our own. In combining this with my desire to help feed those with less, I strive to create delicious recipes utilizing inexpensive ingredients so that they are accessible to many. In other words, trying to make a dollar outta fifteen cents.
Yes, I will splurge on fancy ingredients every now and then, but that is certainly not the norm in my cooking. Something clicked for me earlier this year during a run-of-the-mill trip to the grocery store when I came across a package of neck bones for what couldn’t have been more than $2 a pound (and probably closer to $1). I’d never cooked with them before, but I knew that something delicious and comforting could be made. I combined it with a head of cabbage, braised it to coax out all of the wonderful flavors, and ended up with a lot of good tasting food for not a whole lot of money.
Our people have a long history of making do with less. Though I’d love for us all to be on an even playing field, I also know that it is the responsibility of those of us with more—be it money, talent, or resources—to help those of us with less. Me using my culinary training to help teach people how to feed themselves well is just one way I try to embody Ujima.
From The Hungry Hutch