Junettenth is an important holiday in the African-American community. It's also a showcase for recipes that have been in families for generations along with highlighting the flavors of the community. It's a time of remembrance and celebration.
Nicole Taylor wrote about it in yesterday's New York Times Food section Juneteenth is June 19th, commemorating the end of slavery, albeit two years after Abe Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.Texans erupted in joy which led to the festivities. The state still holds the country's largest Juneteenth celebrations with parades featuring horses and souped up cars. Tender, fatty brisket can also be had along with barbecue. There are other celebrations throughout the south and in major cities such as new York, LA and Chicago. The food must be red or have a red tint. The color symbolizes ingenuity and resilience in bondage. Strawberry pop is the drink of choice at most of the gatherings. Kola nut tea and bissap - hibiscus tea are also served - first coming over with the enslaved from Africa. Some of the celebrations are more spiritual, giving thanks to the ancestors with more traditional foods such as black eyed peas and collard greens.
Of course red food rules. spicy hot links, beef sausage dyed with red food coloring, are on many grills during Juneteenth. Texas Pete Hot Sauce is also served, its' orange-y red color livening up everything from fish to rice. The menu varies from state to state. Char grilled oysters are served in Mississippi while the Carolinas serve up vinegar tinged pulled pork.There is also always bowls of potato salad made form family recipes. The dessert is usually Red Velvet cake or pie . Ms. Taylor, who has written the cookbook, The Up South Cookbook : Chasing Dixie in a Brooklyn Kitchen. includes a recipe for strawberry slab pie which is the perfect end for any summer meal. The filling is fresh strawberries mixed with brown sugar and zinged up with grapefruit juice and zest. Grated fresh ginger is also added to get away from the usually cloying fruit jam flavor. The crust, too, is unusual with a teaspoon of cracked pepper added for more fire. Buttermilk and butter temper it. There are pastry circles on top, also brushed with buttermilk for decoration.
Juneteenth is a celebration rich in tradition and food. It will represent freedom and ingenuity with tasty and tempting foods. Enjoy it this day, full of meaning and flavor.