Author Archives: MHill

Marion’s Favorites: High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America

Food is foundational to culture.  Every human culture on the planet has food as an essential part of their culture. African Americans did not differ from anyone else along the human spectrum in that regard. High On The Hog is a four-part miniseries on Netflix that celebrates how African American Cuisine transformed America.  The concept was taken from the book by Professor and Historian Jessica B. Harris. Harris explored how African American Cuisine had a major influence on American Cuisine at large.

The miniseries hosted by food writer, chef and sommelier Steven Satterfield as he travels to Benin, West Africa, as well as around the United States from Charleston, South Carolina to Apex, North Carolina, to Philadelphia, New York City, and Houston, Texas.  These episodes showed the diversity of black cuisine from the true origins of yams, sweet potatoes, okra, collard greens, gumbo to barbecue.  Also, the show revealed an unknown fact of American History that President Thomas Jefferson had a black man, Thomas Hemings, on his Monticello plantation in Charlottesville, Virginia as his primary chef.

My favorite episodes were the first one when Satterfield travels to Benin, West Africa and explores the richness of African cuisine and how it is connected African American Cuisine especially with okra and yams. Also, Satterfield has an emotional experience when he walks the road in Benin where the slaves traveled before being put on the ships to the Americas.  Deeply moving and powerful.

The last episode brought him to Texas where he explored the Juneteenth Holiday and the Black Cowboy tradition in the Lone Star State. This was my favorite episode.  Even though I was born and raised as a Floridian, I have always loved the State of Texas.  It is the largest state in the continental forty-eight states.  Also, Texas has always seen itself as an independent state in the union.  Satterfield explores the black contribution to the Lone Star State by the way of barbecue and now I have several road trips to make in the future.

In closing, High on the Hog examines how American black cuisine has had a major imprint on American Cuisine. I’m so delighted that Netflix allowed a miniseries like this to be brought out for public consumption. I hoped those of you who are non-black watch this miniseries.  This is not only about African-American culture but American culture too. We need this history to be shown to everyone. I hope this opens the door for a TV series to showcase Hispanic, Native American, Japanese, Chinese, South Asian Americans to tell their cuisine stories too. Real diversity allows these types of stories to be shown and we all will be the richer for that experience.  High on the Hog is the best TV miniseries I have watched in 2021 and I will give it my highest recommendation.

Wisdom From Kammbia Story Review 3: Speech Sounds by Octavia E. Butler

What if you lived in a society where speaking is a threat to the social order? Octavia Butler speculated on the aforementioned question in her Hugo Award-winning short story, Speech Sounds. I came across this story when it was discussed on the Novel Pairing Podcast. The discussion was interesting, and I had to read the… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 80: Planting Stories (The Life of Librarian & Storyteller Pura Belpre) by Anika Aldamuy Denise & Paola Escobar

The joy I get in reading with my daughter Norah is you learn about someone that you have never heard of before.  This is the case with the book, Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar. Pura Belpre was the first librarian of Puerto Rican… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 79: Respect-The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz

Sometimes after reading one book will make you want another book with a similar topic. My previous review was a fictional music documentary in a novel titled The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. Opal Jewel was one half of a groundbreaking punk rock duo from the early 1970s that nearly made… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 78: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

“The easiest thing in the world is to be yourself. The hardest thing in the world is to be yourself.” Those two sentences were appropriate for one of the two major characters, Opal Jewel, in Dawnie Walton’s excellent debut novel, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. Walton told the story of the early 1970s… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 77: Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due

As a reader, you notice what kinds of books that you keep gravitating towards. Even though I’m an eclectic reader, I keep gravitating recently towards novels that are about the creative process (books, art, food, or music).  Human creativity has always been fascinating to me, because it showcases the power of imagination in interesting and… Continue Reading