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Love, Life and Plenty of Sauce: Serving Up Our Favorite Black Food

On this episode of democracy-ish, Danielle and Toure are hungry, and you’re about to be hungry too.

  • Black food is American food. That’s the theme of the new Netflix series “High on the Hog,” which our foodie podcast hosts recently devoured.

  • Inspired by its investigation of Black culinary traditions, they discuss how food connects them with family as well as their favorite dishes and destinations.

  • Toure and Danielle also answer these burning questions: What’s better –– KFC or Popeyes? What will they always skip at a soul-food spread? And just who thinks it’s acceptable to serve mashed potatoes without gravy?

Inspired by last week’s discussion of Netflix’s “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America,” Toure and Danielle –– who both love great food –– want to dig deeper into the subject.

“The history of Black food is so rich and important to me,” says Toure. “It connects me to my grandparents, my ancestors.”

Danielle agrees and says “High on the Hog” taught her so many things about America she didn't know.

The four-part series about Black culinary traditions begins in Benin, West Africa before winding its way to the U.S., notably the Carolinas, Virginia and Texas. It made Danielle feel like she was “learning through eating” and giving her new respect for dishes and places with deep Black history.

“When we watch other food shows, we’re often inundated with European chefs with Michelin stars and all these things,” she adds. “It's usually largely white and largely male with very few women sprinkled in.”

Often, culinary stars don’t have a deep connection to the places they work in. They’re considered great chefs because they're French or trained under someone who is. But “High on the Hog” transports us to specific places and histories, Danielle says.

Watching the show was like “taking a journey with the entirety of the black community, getting to experience this thing we have different attachments to, but as a collective. The history that was taken from us –– exactly what makes the show so special –– we’re bringing it back.”

On this episode, our hosts tell stories about the food they love, dish on what they hate and bicker plenty, too.

Let’s dig in.

Episode Highlights –– The Black Food Episode

Slow food for thought

Toure’s grandmother, who is no longer with us, grew up in Alabama as “one of 12 children or something like that,” he says. “She made Thanksgiving dinner for the first 15 years of my life. She had this amazing gravy that just made every turkey taste amazing.”

But the biscuits were the real star –– ”just so perfectly fluffy, yet crispy, and the perfect warmth. I felt this connection to where she came from, and whoever she carried those recipes forward from,” he adds.

Danielle definitely knows how food can transport us to another time or place. Her family is Jamaican, so “for me, black food is Jamaican food,” she says. “Whenever I smell it walking around Brooklyn, or I'm home with my family, it just brings back all of these memories and all of this history.”

Learning about food, especially Jamaican cuisine, is “a way to take a journey with family,” Danielle adds.

Toure remembers visiting Jamaica and “going to the tiniest little shack on the side of the road,” where he had lobster and french fries, and a Red Stripe.

“You can see that it's just made for you, because they don't do fast food. Like, three people come in there for lunch per day. It's super fresh and you just feel so connected to the people and the place and the culture.”

Big Easy-going

Toure says the absolute best Black food he’s ever had has been in New Orleans.

Dooky Chase’s is one of the greatest restaurants, perhaps in the whole country. The chicken, the biscuits, everything was perfect. There are certain places –– like the first time I went to Nobu. The first time I went to Dooky Chase’s was the first time I had gumbo that was perfect.”

Danielle hasn’t been to New Orleans, but she gets it.