At Tasting Table, we all have our hobbies. Some of us knit scarves, some of us train for marathons and some of us binge-watch HBO shows while drinking beer and eating leftover Chinese food (or something). For DINE App editor Aaron Hutcherson, a good chunk of his extracurricular time is dedicated to his recipe blog, The Hungry Hutch.
While there's plenty of gorgeous photography and fiesta-worthy guac to go around, Aaron also uses his site to call attention to the inherent connections between culture, tradition, identity and, of course, food.
That's where the 28-year-old writer got the idea to host a virtual potluck in honor of Black History Month. He teamed up with Dallas-based blogger Meiko Drew of Meiko and the Dish to feature 28 black food bloggers from across the country, including one from Kenya. (If your math is a little rusty, that means a new recipe each day of the month.)
A few weeks ago I had a dream of black #foodbloggers from across the country (world, actually) working together to help promote each other and our brands. And today that dream comes to life! In line with #BlackHistoryMonth, I've assembled recipes from 28 black food bloggers (including myself) to bring to you a virtual potluck. (That's enough to share a new blogger and recipe with you each day of the month.) I'll be sharing the recipes on my Facebook page all month long, but you can get a sneak peek by visiting the link in my bio. A special shoutout goes to @meikoandthedish - my partner in coordinating this event and without whom said event might not have happened. Do you want to take part in the fun? Share your own dishes with #BHMpotluck on social media to join the party.
The world's current divisive political and cultural climate being what it is, Aaron was inspired to turn a culinary lens on some of the amazing work being done within the black community. Sure, food has played a major role in the development of every culture on the planet, but, as Aaron explains, it's been an especially integral part of the black experience.
"Most of my fondest memories took place around the dinner table, and I think many others in my community would agree," he says. "Food is a prime example of black people coming together and making the most of whatever came our way. During slavery, we only had access to ingredients that were normally discarded—intestines, feet, neck bones, bitter or thick-skinned vegetables—and our cooking reflects the ingenuity and resourcefulness needed to make those things delicious. It also speaks to the way we incorporate bold or spicy flavors into our cooking. I mean, if you’re forced to cook chitlins, they better be good."
This Creamy Peanut Stew with roasted sweet potatoes, greens, and Crispy Baked Okra is making my Friday so comfy and reminding me of home. Slipped some soy sauce in it too cause that's how mom always did it I'm making sure to share it on the blog in a few days because it's easily the best soup I've had this year AND its my contribution to the Virtual Black History Month Potluck hosted by @thehungryhutch @meikoandthedish!! can't wait to see what everyone else made!
Despite a growing interest in American cooking's undoubtedly black roots (for example, Top Chef's recent Edna Lewis nod), widespread misconceptions about black culinary traditions, like the stereotypes that bore them, are hard to shake. But Aaron's project is working to change that.
"'Black food' is often conflated with Southern food," he explains. "But the recipes featured in the virtual potluck show that our cooking extends far beyond fried chicken and pecan pie—though that's not to say we're leaving those dishes out."
Molasses-Bourbon Pecan Tartlets //The mini pies I made for yesterday's Friendsgiving came out great! I updated my recipe by using molasses which gave a wonderfully complex, yet not-too-sweet flavor. If you're looking for a relatively simple, show stopping dessert to make for Thanksgiving, you must try this #PecanPie! The recipe for my Bourbon-Pecan #Pie is on my blog: http://www.foodieinnewyork.com/2014/11/bourbon-pecan-pie/ --------------------------------------------------------Also huge thanks to Christine for organizing this event. It was wonderful to meet so many other food bloggers and actually get to taste their inspiring creations! #ffnyc1111 #tarts #chinasouthernfoodies
With participants representing a multitude of cultural and geographical backgrounds, Aaron is hoping his potluck challenges readers to consider the full scope of black culinary traditions. "People are starting to embrace global black cuisine, but there's still plenty more to explore," he continues. "Yes, we have people like JJ Johnson at The Cecil celebrating food from the African diaspora, but he’s one of the few chefs that gets much attention for this type of food."
Participating bloggers include the likes of Jerrelle Guy, aka Chocolate for Basil, a Boston-based graduate student whose beautifully styled vegetarian fare has caught the eyes of thousands (namely, Vogue); Foodie in New York's Vallery Lomas, a law school graduate who spent a year in France cultivating her passion for baking; and the Guyanese Jehan Can Cook, a site that shares authentic Caribbean recipes, each prepared with an extra dose of love.
This month, our hearts belong to the people, places, ingredients and nostalgic favorites doing it all For the Love of Food.