African-American Food’s History & Soul

We look at the soul and the history of African-American cooking with soul food’s grand dame, Jessica Harris.

Soul food (Flickr/MookieLuv)

Our word for okra comes from the Igbo language in Nigeria. Gumbo, the word itself, harks back to the Bantu. So does “goober,” as in peanut. 

Watermelons appear in Egyptian tomb paintings, and have been grown for centuries in the Kalahari. Black-eyed peas pour out of markets from Dakar to Zanzibar – and across soul food menus and kitchen counters all over America. 

African-American food and food ways have worked deep into the American palate.  

Culinary historian Jessica Harris joins us from New Orleans on her new book, High on the Hog.

-Tom Ashbrook


Jessica Harris, culinary historian and author of numerous cookbooks. Her latest is High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America.

Tony Brooks, chef and owner of Coast Café, a restaurant in Cambridge, MA. He will be providing dishes for the broadcast.

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