The Family Reunion: A Culinary Celebration of Foodways of the Diaspora!

Delicious food is the centerpiece of any Black celebration, and delectable delights were on full display at this year's Family Reunion, presented by Kwame Onwauchi with partners Salamander Hotels & Resorts and FOOD and WINE!

Beautiful Black chefs speaking on the history of Soul Food at the Family Reunion
L-R: Melba Wilson, Dr. Jessica B. Harris, and Erick Williams panelists at the "History of Soul Food" session.

Our food has experienced quite a journey to present itself as the centerpiece of our festive jubliees. Take rice for instance, there are types of rice that originated on the Gold Coast of Africa. Rice has been such a staple in our diets, it has navigated the triangular trade of the diaspora and has left its mark on every land where there was a stop during the slave trade. The impression rice has had along the diaspora ranges from "Who has the best Jollof" amongst West African countries, to the Spanish Rice of south American countries, to slave traders specifically seeking Africans to enslave along the Gold Coast of the Carolina's because of their knowledge of cultivating rice. It has literally impacted our cuisine from coast to coast!


A field of rice.
A field of rice.
"We are one of the only people who demonize our food. That diet is the diet that got us here." Dr. Jessica B. Harris

Like rice dishes, southern comfort food is deeply rooted in the foundation of leftovers re-imagined and re-seasoned into southern delicacies our grandparents learned to cook like folklore passed down from their grandparents, and their grandparents, and their grandparents; and would have children peeking into the kitchen pressed for Sunday dinner time after the aroma halted their playing of games and led them right to the kitchen. Many of these leftovers came from pork scraps that some condemn today: hog maws, pig's feet, stone soup, chittlin's...y'all know!


"We literally ate from the rooter to the tooter, and those were good eats!" - Melba Wilson
Talented Black chefs discussing the history of Jerk.
Jerk: The Dish that Freed a Nation with Andre Fowles, Osei Blackett, Peter Prime, Shorne Benjamin and Tavel Bristol-Joseph

"We often think we had scraps, but there is no group of people who throw away food. What we're really looking at is classism. In every class, slaves who were higher up on the hog, ate the better parts." The white meat of the chicken. Those of us on the lower level, we know the dark meat is more cost effective and tastes better." - Erick Williams