This past week, my sister and I sat down and watched the new Netflix documentary called ‘High on the Hog’. It’s all the craze on Netflix right now. It is a four part series documenting a food writer named, Stephen Satterfield as he traces the origins of African-American food all the way from Africa (Benin, specifically) to different places throughout America. And, it got me thinking about how important it truly is for us to expand our palates and try different foods and cuisines.
It was fascinating watching Stephen as he made his way around different places in Benin trying foods like okra, tomato based dishes, and yam rich foods that I had never even heard of. It made me want to go and explore different foods. After all, I do have roots in Benin on my paternal grandfather’s side.
I could relate a lot more however, to the food and culture when Stephen ventured to South Carolina and North Carolina. My mother is from North Carolina, so I know all about southern cuisine ranging from barbecue to pig roasts to pig feet cooked in giant pots with peas. Yes, that is a real thing! People actually do eat pig feet. Eating pig feet does not sound appealing, I know, but they are very good and my maternal grandmother, Barbara Jean used to make them all the time to go along with big pots of leafy collard greens and pans of macaroni and cheese. Her collard greens were seasoned to perfection and at times, for a little added kick, had crushed red pepper flakes peppered throughout. Maybe that’s why I enjoy using crushed red pepper so much in my dishes. But, only a pinch at a time, as it can get too spicy very quickly. If you’ve never used crushed red pepper flakes, then you should certainly expand your palate and try them!
Seeing the Southern cuisine brought back memories for me of the time I first made a southern feast for my friends back home in the Philadelphia area. They had never tried real southern food and were pleasantly surprised. I made so much food thinking that I would have enough to pack away for later, but fortunately my friends kept going back for more. They still talk about how good that southern feast was to this day! It is wonderful when people are introduced to new and unique foods and love it! Trying different foods helps you to widen your horizons. You can learn new words. It can make it easier to order from a restaurant menu if you are familiar with certain names of foods and dishes.
So, I will ask you this. What is a food or cuisine that you would like to try? Do you want to trace your roots and try something from where your ancestors are from? How about a specific kind of spice? Do you want to travel to a certain destination to get the full experience? Or, would you rather find a recipe for a dish and make it in the comfort of your very own home? Let us know in the comments! However you choose to explore different foods and expand your palate, I hope you find something that you enjoy and possibly even surprise yourself by how much you actually end up enjoying it! Don’t forget to introduce others to it too! Happy Exploring!