My Netflix queue has gotten out of control and is entirely too long. And to make matters worse, I keep adding to it. Being out of the U.S. for so long, I missed watching binge-worthy, must-watch classics like The Wire and Breaking Bad when they came out, and I’d love to sit down on the sofa for another few months and watch them now that they are streaming, as well as rewatch all five seasons of Six Feet Under, which was one of the best shows that’s even been on television. How they managed to make a show about death so human is beyond me, with a finale that’s lauded as the best ending for a television series ever. Which also made me wonder how they could have left the end of The Sopranos, another incredible show, land with such a thud?
The pandemic and confinements were certainly good for whittling down those “Watch Lists” but one show that jumped to the top of the queue was High on the Hog. It’s an eye-opening, unnerving, and emotionally difficult look at the role that African-Americans, who were brought to America as slaves, had in shaping American cooking. The subtitle of the show is “How African-American Cuisine Transformed America” which sounds like a big bill for fill, but the four-episode show traces how that happened.
And lest anyone doubt the rich contribution African-Americans have made to our cooking, author and Cook’s Country editor Toni Tipton-Martin pointed out in the program that Black Americans have been used by food brands for decades in America to denote quality, by brands like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, which gave host Stephen Satterfield pause as well, flipping the narrative about those culinary characters (or caricatures) that many of us grew up with.
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