February is dedicated to Black History Month in the US - a time to celebrate the contributions and achievements of African Americans in the history of the United States of America, in both national and local events, from politics to art, and of course, food.
This year's theme is 'Black Health and Wellness', but there's a whole host of food centred ways to celebrate wherever you are.
Here are a few ways to celebrate Black History Month through food, whether in person, in company or online.
1. Dine out at Chicago Black Restaurant Week
6 to 20 February
Chicago Black Restaurant Week returns for its seventh season, celebrating the city’s black-owned eateries with two weeks of incredible eats at over 30 participating restaurants.
2. Join an online discussion with the James Beard Foundation - 'Black to the Future'
Farmers, policy experts, and past JBF Leadership Awards winners will explore black foodways, addressing a number of questions in an online forum, including: 'How can chefs, diners, purveyors, and others support black farming, and why that should be essential to anyone seeking a more sustainable food system?'; and 'From local to national, what does food sovereignty entail?'
Register for the event here.
3. Visit the 'African/American: Making the Nation’s Table' exhibition at The Africa Center at Aliko Dangote Hall, New York
February 23 to 19 June
Explore some of the incredible stories of African Americans who shaped the country’s culinary identity in this new exhibition, which the museum describes as a "first-of-its kind" show, featuring the endless contributions made by black chefs, farmers and food producers toward American food culture. It's curated by Dr. Jessica B. Harris, a prominent expert on foods of the African diaspora.
Tickets can be purchased online.
4. Support black-owned businesses
Whether you're looking to stock up on kitchen gadgets and tools at Kitchly or a tin of spiced hibiscus tea from Berry Bissap, buying vegetables from a black-owned farm, or hungry for a food delivery, use your spending power to benefit black-owned businesses in your area. MOFAD has a great list of resources, as does CherryBombe, listing everything from food and drink, to cookbooks and chefs.
5. Explore black history through food traditions & recipes
Westchester Community College is hosting a cultural culinary experience with chef Natalie Rivera exploring the significance of food traditions in the African Diaspora.
Online, attend via Zoom
6. Try new dishes at Marcus Samuelsson's restaurants all month long (various locations)
Marcus Samuelsson's culinary teams have created special weekly dishes at his restaurants in honour of extraordinary people. Their blackened whole snapper garnished with creole sauce, okra succotash and rice at @MarcusBahaMar is in honour of late Bahamian actor and legend Sir Sidney Poitier; while at @MarcusatNoHuRooftop you can find chicken confit with black mash, nappa cabbage and royalty vegetables in honour of Mamie Till, mother of Emmett Till.
7. Cook the cuisine of the African diaspora
Marcus Samuelsson's new cookbook, The Rise, is a great place to start cooking the cuisine of the African diaspora. As the New York restaurateur of Red Rooster, of Harlem fame, says: "Black cooking has always been more than 'soul food'." Discover a host of flavours tracing the African continent in this round-up of stories and recipes from 45 black chefs and cooks, for everyday and celebration cooking. "It's not a list of who’s in the book and who’s not in the book. It's more about showcasing the breadth of black cooking," says Samuelsson.
Start with 'Papa Ed’s shrimp and grits' by Ed Brumfield, the executive chef at Red Rooster in Harlem.
8. Read 'Black, White, and The Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant' by John O. Morisano and Mashama Bailey
Read the inspirational dual memoir of chef Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano, from The Grey in Savannah, Georgia, and discover how a black woman chef and a white businessman managed to cross the racial divide and come together to use food as a way to bring people together.
9. Watch: 'High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America' on Netflix
Discover the food series that explores the contribution and the importance of African-American food culture, and how it is the cornerstone of American cuisine in Netflix's series, based on the 2011 book by the scholar Jessica B. Harris.
10. Donate to a worthy cause
MOFAD lists a number of charities like the Black Chef Movement which you can support through volunteering or giving financial aid. It's great to support a cause that's close to your heart.
11. Tune in to a podcast
Discover a new favourite podcast and take a deep dive into food, wine and spirits. Here's a good place to start: 20 food podcasts by black women.