A Taste of Wine, Hip Hop and A Side of Ribs ‘Uncorked”

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Think wine, Hip Hop and ribs are an unlikely combination?  Think again.   And Netflix’s Uncorked gives a glimpse of American life in Tennessee through the eyes of young African American aspiring sommelier. His dilemma  is to continue in the tradition of the family owned Memphis BBQ joint serving the ribs, and soul food to the Memphis community.   His grandfather started the business, his father continued the business and primes him to take over the business.     Immediately the feature opens with hard hitting Hip Hop music while shot cuts back and forth between smoking meat, tasting wine and cutting ribs.   The movie centers around a highly unlikely aspiration.   Although Black sommeliers are very few, like many professions lack of exposure or insight stifles an interests in the field.  However, what’s not lacking are Black wine drinkers globally.

Along with the efforts of the movie Uncorked, Black sommelier, Andre Hueston Mack hope to gain more exposure to the Black wine drinking demographic.  According to Mack fc27439a-1945-47c4-80c0-fcfd806c8b54-Sash_Photography_Sablier_Watches-6in aUSA Today article, he expressed that Hip-hop and wine are the perfect pairing.

He is one of only a few black sommeliers and winemakers, and Mack is seeking to revolutionize the wine industry with his background in music, skate culture and modern design. A sommelier or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine.

He founded Mouton Noir, now Maison Noir, in 2007, starting it from scratch with no money and no investors.

His wine is now sold across the U.S. and in 11 other countries, with Mack splitting his time between 13 leased vineyards in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and his home in Brooklyn, New York.

Black Sommeliers are few but the field of Black owned wineries is expanding. Here are a few:

  • Brown Estate
  • Abbey Creek Vineyard. …
  • Indigené Cellars. …
  • Charles Wine Company. …
  • Theopolis Vineyards. …
  • Taste By Chef Rhonda. …
  • FLO Wine. …
  • Maison Noir Wines.

If you want to watch the road to becoming a sommelier in a film filled with twists and turns. Catch Uncorked on Netflix featuring Mamou Athie, Niecy Nash and Courtney Vance.

How to Make Sweet Potato Jacks

Sweet potato jack

Photo by Crystal Johnson

A sweet potato jack is similar to an empanada or turnover but filled with sweet potato filling similar to a sweet potato pie filling, at least that’s how my family prepares them.   I was probably introduced to the age old southern tradition back in 1978 when I was eight years old.   Every year I’d travel to Chesapeake, VA and spend the summer with my grandparents.  My grandmother, 50 years my senior  loved to fry them but my father opts for a more healthy version by baking the jacks.   – Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

Watch My Dad-  How to Make Baked Sweet Potato Jacks

Black-Eye Pea Seven Layer Dip

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Five, six, seven, eight, pick what you appreciate.   I concocted this recipe when having a party.   It was after the New Year’s and in African American culture, it means you may have leftover black-eyed peas.   I knew we had tortilla chips. I knew we just happened to have sliced black pitted olives.   So I asked someone to pick up some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.    Now, in classic version of the famous 7 layer dip people include tomatoes, guacamole and green onions.  If any of these layer turn you off then leave it out.   Your dip might turn out to be four, five or six layer dip.   If you’re not into refried beans and you want you want to add something fun and different to your New Year’s eve or Juneteenth celebration.

Click here for classic seven layer dip recipe and add your twist!

 

How Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy Helped Famous Amos Cookie Company Get Started

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To a knew generation it is quite possible they don’t know the face behind the Famous Cookie brand or what’s quite worse, not know the brand at all.   Once upon time, Famous Amos and his cookie brand were truly famous.  Let’s begin with the back story of Mr. Amos.  Wally Amos was the first black talent agent of the famous Willam Morris Agency, now called Willam Morris Endeavor.   In 1967, Amos left William Morris, and moved to Los Angeles, where he struggled to set up his own personal img_1359management company.  Burdened with the debt of his failing business, Amos began to take comfort in baking chocolate chip cookies.

 

The business man in him saw an opportunity.  After all, he had connections, confidence and modified modified version of his Aunt Della’s recipe.   With those ingredients he planned to open the first freestanding cookie store.  Now LA is known for donuts but cookies?

A few friends such as singer Helen Reddy (I am Woman) and Marvin Gaye financially backed him with $25,000,   add an innovative marketing initiative, which included an extensive advertising campaign and a gala grand opening.  The first Famous Amos cookie store opened on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1975. Within months, Amos had opened two more West Coast franchises, and the New York-based Bloomingdale’s department store had begun selling the gourmet cookies.

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Ayesha Curry’s Primetime Show on ABC, ‘Family Food Fight’

family-food-fight-abcFamily Food Fight, a new culinary competition show featuring Steph Curry’s Wife Ayesha as the host. The series will showcase eight families trying to create a recipe in order to win $100,000. Curry will also be a judge on the show alongside Graham Elliot and Cat Cora.

The husband and wife duo each have new shows that will air Thursday nights on ABC.  Steph Curry also bring a family friendly competition show to TV called Holey Moley. 

 

 

First Black MasterChef after Nine Seasons

Colorstream Media

593916040_750x422 Photo Courtesy of Fox

MasterChef Gerron Hurt tweeted, “After 24 hours I am still on cloud nine.”   He also said, “You are now looking at America’s first Black MasterChef.

Halfway through the two-hour finale of Fox’s “MasterChef” season nine, Louisville native Gerron Hurt had a feeling he’d be headed home with the coveted “MasterChef” title and the $250,000 grand prize.

“I am a very humble person, but when I got to the finale, I walked into the studio feeling really confident about what I was cooking,” Hurt told the Courier Journal. READ MORE

His style of cooking is Southern-inspired.

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Historian Explains Meghan Markle’s Family Tree

Colorstream Media

gettyimages-960049638 Meghan and her Mom on the Royal Wedding Day

Let’s face it, Meghan Markle is more than a British princess, she’s America’s princess.  In America, her wedding was watched more than Prince Harry and Kate’s.   She is the classic story which has helped make Disney rich, a girl of humble means meets a prince and they live happily ever after.

Of course, what is even more unique about Markle is her multi-racial identity., born to a caucasian dad and an African American mom.   On her mother’s side, there is an all too familiar American, African American story which involves a lineage which includes slavery.

Check out this report:

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Fine Wine and Dr. King

Three men from different backgrounds and strongly differing beliefs met totally by chance on a rainy evening in Atlanta. While sipping fine wine the wide divide in their beliefs did not disappear, but for a time, Jim Sander’s hospitality and a mutual enjoyment of the wine bound them together in pleasant conversation, and a little known but historic meeting passed into history.

Preserving the Tradition of African American New Year Eats

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Black-eyed peas over saffron Rice.  Photo by Crystal Johnson

African American New Year’s Eats face a stigma.  Much of the younger African Americans, the yuppies and hipsters realize the food isn’t healthy and there seems to be a resentment about the traditional foods being the leftover grub for Black folks during the slavery days in the United States.  As an African American who grew up in New York as a 70’s child to parents from the south, I have an appreciation for the traditional foods of our history.

Food is correlated to history.  For the first time in years my dad prepared for me what I would call a Soul Food dinner.  The flavors were altered a bit with his age being in the 70’s.   There is a consciousness about blood pressure and salt.  Traditionally, the traditional pig feet and collard greens are  foods laddened with salt.

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Pig Feet prepared by Carl Johnson.  Photo by Crystal Johnson

Pig feet are normally drenched in vinegar yet my dad’s gourmet take steered away from the vinegar.  I say pour it on.  It helps cut back the fat anyway.  He put before me Pig feet, chitterlings and black peas over rice.    Let’s talk about the chittlin’s .  A whiff nearly knocked out and brought me back to age 10.  The aroma is the substance of history and tradition.  Chitterlings as they are properly called are the pig’s intestines.  The undesirable parts of the pig were left to the slaves.  Thus, it is understandable that many blacks today take offense maintaining a tradition of eating something we don’t have to eat.

My father also included in the menu, cornbread.  However, he got fancy by putting it in the shape of a rose.  Now I can tell you my dad proudly presented these dishes with love and appreciation of our history.  He prepared these dishes in a way that you may find it in a fine restaurant.   He also prepared the most delicious pressure cooked collard greens lightly seasoned with white pepper.  There was no pot liquor to be found.  Pot liquor is the leftover liquid from collard greens.  Mom used to talk about that when I was a child.  You couldn’t find much historical record of pot liquor when I was a child.  I almost thought it was an old wise tale but today with the internet more of the history of African Americans moving form oral to written history.  Today, we also know the nutrients of collard greens and kale was a healthful blessing to our diet.

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Chitterlings aka “Chittlin’s” Photo by Crystal Johnson

I guess what I want people to walk away is there is room to embrace our historic food traditions.  It may involve leaving some of the menu items off or merely changing the preparation.   But in a culture that has tried to stay alive, let’s preserve some of our culinary traditions.   Many cultures around the world maintain food traditions which symbolize oppression as a remembrance.  Maybe preparation of these foods can be a way of recalling Black history in America as we build our way toward a brighter tomorrow.

History of the Hoppin John Bowl

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“Hoppin-john-bowl” by Srjenkins – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

The origins of the name are uncertain; one possibility is that the name is a corruption of the Haitian Creole term for black-eyed peas: pois pigeons(pronounced: [pwapiˈʒɔ̃]).

The Oxford English Dictionary’s first reference to the dish is from Frederick Law Olmsted‘s 19th century travelogue, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States(1861).[7] However, a recipe for “Hopping John” in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge,[8] which was published in 1847, is also cited as the earliest reference.[9] An even earlier source is Recollections of a Southern Matron,[10]which mentions “Hopping John” (defined, in a note, as “bacon and rice”) as early as 1838.[11]

Hoppin’ John was originally a Low Country food before spreading to the entire population of the South. Hoppin’ John may have evolved from rice and bean mixtures that were the subsistence of enslaved West Africans en route to the Americas.[12] Hoppin’ John has been further traced to similar foods in West Africa,[9] in particular the Senegalese dish,thiebou niebe.[13]

One tradition common in the U.S. is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to ensure that the New Year will be filled with luck, fortune and romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck (or wealth) that the diner will have in the coming year. On Sapelo Island in the community of Hog Hammock, Geechee red peas are used instead of black-eyed peas. Sea Island red peas are similar.[14]