Black History Month Vanlife Quest
Food Culture Heritage and Tradition
Food Culture Tradition & Heritage
I was inspired to celebrate Black History Month by recently preparing an African-themed Southern Sunday dinner. The menu included Steamed rice, black eyed peas, okra and tomatoes, Domada-a Gambian chicken stew simmered with peanut butter and pumpkin, whole fried red snapper in a red sauce, cornbread stuffing, collard greens, and homemade baked not fried sweet potato and peach turnovers. I had a few family members to go around the table and share what black history month meant to them.
I am on a quest to discover from whom and from which I came. It is indeed noble to celebrate great black leaders who helped shape recent history, but I want to go deeper to find and document the untold stories of everyday people who did their best to live and thrive despite oppression, hardship and tribulations. I wish to memorialize and honor those strong men and women of African ancestry that survived the transatlantic slave trade bound and shackled. They arrived without nothing in a foreign land but held the culture and traditions of Mother Africa within their heart and soul. My goal is to travel along the path of the Underground Railroad meeting descendants and visiting the places they lived and worked to experience their historical culture by attending festivals and touring churches, schools, cemeteries, parks, and museums throughout the country. Unbeknownst to their captures and oppressors were a peculiar taste of exotic cuisine, elaborate costumes and garments, celebratory and festive dance and music, infectious laughter, enduring courage and strength, and sheer will and determination that is present throughout many facets of the black community. No doubt these enslaved people who were forced to toil the fields in this strange new world from sun up to sun down must have been tormented to look up and gaze at the same beautiful blue sky and piercing radiant sun of their distant homeland. Then to look down feeling hopelessness, longing, and despair through tear-filled eyes with tired hands and feet, aching backs, and weary souls at their masters widespread land and flourishing crops before them with no end in sight. I can not imagine waking up each day with no relief and without recompense. I know without a doubt that with each subsequent generation, hope remained. This hope fueled their desires and dreams that one day they would be set free. The words to “Follow the drinking gourd” was a message directing and challenging the enslaved to go North towards freedom. I wholeheartedly embrace the message of this old narrative. Today, I apply the principles of my faith and trust the process in knowing that my needs will be met; and I will be led safely down the road to self fulfillment, enlightenment, and discovery. I declare, “I will not leave like I came. I will be forgiving of the past and pray it never repeats!”
It is with this spirit that I anxiously await the opportunity to fulfill my destiny. I anticipate the moment when I shall meet a distance relative who shares my same passion and equal drive. He or she will pat a seat and say to me, “Come, I have been waiting to meet you too. Let us share and learn from one another.”
No matter where this journey takes me, I will never forget my rich Southern heritage that gave me an appreciation of great food and people and a desire to create extraordinary dishes from the simplest and most basic ingredients. I absolutely love cooking and plan to cook in and out of my van as much as possible. I am going to use a small 12 volt refrigerator and medium sized cooler to keep my items cold. I will try to plan my meals so that I’m not wasting food, and I will be buying fresh meat and vegetables and cooking on my 2-burner propane stove. From what I have read, there are some people in this lifestyle who have reportedly lost weight and look and feel healthier than ever.
If our paths should cross along this vanlife as I chronicle my genealogical journey, you are invited to sit down at my table to chat and share a meal and laughter with me. Perhaps you might be interested in attending one of my hosted sponsored-events.
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