What story does this plate tell? At first, this dish of black beans stewed with pumpkin & sweet potato, a side of yellow rice, and a generous portion of black beans may tell us a story of Latin America and the Caribbean. It may tell us a story of migrating to New York City or Florida. A closer look reveals a plate that is impossible without the genius of African rice & plantain cultivation and culinary techniques. It is a plate that is unimaginable without Indigenous agricultural traditions that produced the beans, pumpkin, and potato. The spices that provide the rice with its distinct color tell us of Muslim merchants establishing an expansive and complex trading and cultural network stretching from South Asia all the way to Southern Europe and West Africa. A plate like this doesn’t romanticize the horrors of Atlantic Slave Trade or settler colonialism, nor does it celebrate mestizaje as an ideal, but reminds us that this is the food of African and Indigenous resistance and continual survival.
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