FLIK x Black History Month: On Rice & Roots
This Black History Month, FLIK is celebrating Black humanity and showcasing Black wellness traditions through storytelling with food and family.
Storytelling is an essential component of our approach to Black History Month. We centered our storytelling on foods that connect us all and around wellness that we all need to tap into, around the Black family as a legacy-building entity that passes traditions to loved ones with pride and care. This week we're discussing how we're more alike than we are different, by featuring a beloved grain almost everyone eats: rice. And furthermore exploring how cultures from the African Diaspora prepare rice dishes, in America and beyond.
Read more about how FLIK is celebrating Black History Month here.
By Trudy Halliman, Food Service Director, Entrepreneurial Council, FLIK Hospitality Group
Among my most vivid and treasured childhood memories is sitting with my sister and cousin on Sunday mornings grating coconut for the coconut milk base that gives Jamaican rice and peas its distinctive flavor. It was a tradition in our home that we ate stewed chicken with rice and peas on Sundays, so every week we sat together, talked, shared stories and plotted what we would do with the “trash” of the coconut. Mostly, we saved a little and added a bit of sugar to it as a treat to hold us over until dinner time.
Memory is a curious and precious thing, and historical memory – or the collective memories that preserve a cultural group’s past – is a pillar of storytelling. Many of us can recount events of our childhoods, events that shape who we are as individuals, and we remember them not from our own experiences, but from the stories we hear repeatedly. Like these childhood recollections, our memories of history are reinforced by respected storytellers. Through storytelling, we ensure our cultural narratives persist so we may have a chance at preserving our collective interests.
Because Black History Month was created by Carter G. Woodson to foster scientific study of Black life, we knew we had to orient ourselves in our roots: food, and more specifically, our historical memory of foodways, what those foodways mean to us as individuals and as complex cultures, and the impact those foodways have had on American life. Once we settled on the African diaspora and foodways as our entry point to Black History Month, we immediately gravitated toward rice.
The arrival of rice to the shores of what is now known as the United States through the violence of enslavement foreshadows the resilience of the African peoples who would become a part of the fabric of this nation. From the peoples of West Africa who were stolen from their lands and forced to cultivate rice in the South, to the Gullah Geechee people of the Carolinas who have preserved the combined languages of Western African nations into a “creole” and whose red rice is a staple of Lowcountry diets, the African diaspora has had an immeasurable impact on the rice dishes we all eat today.
For the first week of our Black History Month observance, the theme of which is “Everybody Eats,” we wanted to highlight what we have in common by creating connections around a grain we all know and love while preserving the historical memory of how it came to be so important to us. In our podcast, we each talk about what rice means to us and our individual cultures – primarily in Southern American and Caribbean dishes like red rice and Haitian black rice – and the rice dishes Chef Michael Lemon offers for the first week’s celebration represent the best of what this treasured grain has to offer: rice as a vehicle, rice as a showcase, and rice that offers warm comfort.
Everybody Eats Rice! Here are a few FLIK rice recipes to try at home:
- Vegan Dirty Rice
- Red Rice Blend with Bacon
- Brown Rice Congee, Egg, Roasted Mushrooms
- Cauliflower Fried "Rice"
Want to know more? Check out these additional resources:
- Rice and Resilience, Pt 1, by Whetsone Media for the Point of Origin podcast
- Rice and Resilience, Pt 2, by Whetsone Media for the Point of Origin podcast
- Beans and Rice: More than a “Poor Man’s” Meal, by Nikesha Elisa Williams for The Bitter Southerner
- Who Owns Uncle Ben?, by Shane Mitchell for The Bitter Southerner
- Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas, by Judith A. Carney
At FLIK Hospitality Group we believe in great food, great service, and great people. Our wellness first approach ensures our food supports healthy and delicious choices, specially curated by our team of culinary experts and registered dietitians. At FLIK, we believe in seasonality in sourcing our ingredients and providing a customized approach to the culinary and hospitality needs of each client. Our dedication to providing quality hospitality service is unparalleled in the industry.
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