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“High on the Hog” Inspired Tips for Entertaining with Heritage

“High on the Hog” Inspired Tips for Entertaining with Heritage

BBQ is far more than just a good pastime or frequent cuisine for outdoor cooking. Barbecuing is a technique created and started in the African American culture. BBQ connects us to our ancestors, from generation to generation, and impacts the way in which we continue the legacy of food. 

During slavery, we were held to specific regulations on what we could eat due to limitations of food selection. However, this resourcefulness or “when life gives you rice you make red rice” arose because of our dedication to always making a way. Since the transatlantic slave trade, many dishes that are true and originated in our culture made their way to American cuisine.  From okra and rice to the ideal of yams, which are considered sweet potatoes, and watermelon, African American foods are loved by many and appreciated. However, our type of cuisine wasn’t always popular as it was today. When blacks were enslaved, slave owners used to throw away food items they saw no use for. This process of elimination for slave owners became an opportunity for blacks to make these items into dishes that could feed themselves and other enslaved blacks. 

Much of this history of black people and food is spoken about in-depth in the new series on Netflix entitled High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, which is a documentary inspired by the book created by Jessica B. Harris; High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. Both Stephen Satterfield creator of the documentary on Netflix and Ms. Harris, gets into our roots and how it has transformed the way in which Americans enjoy African-American cuisine. Their reminder of the impact our culture has had on all cuisine should remind us of the reason we continue to celebrate in ways in which we do. Also, it should motivate us to host our next event with pride and cooking techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. 

Tips on Hosting High on the Hog Inspired Tips for Entertaining with Heritage

“It’s A Celebration”

Let the time be now for you to celebrate whatever you or your family members have accomplished. We have worked hard to get to the place we are at today and a celebration is required. Purchase the perfect event decor items and grocery list to make sure you have everyone’s favorite dishes and commonly loved items in our culture. 

“Rice, Rice & More Rice”

As stated by Jessica Harris, “rice, rice, and more rice” in episode one of the Netflix documentary, is a tip we should keep in mind when planning for a BBQ. Rice is a great dish to have and a dish that many people will love. This side dish will pair well with savory beans or grilled pork topped with BBQ sauce. If you want to add some African flavors look into making red rice or jambalaya for everyone to enjoy. 

“Get Deep In The Pot”

Inviting friends over means that you should be prepared for all of them to “get deep in the pot.” This quote from a cowboy in the Netflix series; High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, demonstrates that we welcome individuals into our home and want them to leave full and satisfied. Overall, we must be prepared for our guests to get deep in the pot by having enough dishes and a good amount for each dish based on party size. Analyze who you invited and if a plus one can be included account for them and cook/plan accordingly. 

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 tenants and neighbors eating dinner after the white men have finished, on day of corn-shucking at Mrs. Fred Wilkins’ home. Tallyho, Stem, Granville County, No. Car., Nov 1939.. Wolcott, Marion Post — Photographer. November 1939
Notes: Original negative #: 52638-D
Source: Farm Security Administration Collection. / North Carolina. / Marion Post Wolcott. (

All in all, BBQ has a history that is much more than grilling out. BBQ has its traditions, continued legacy,  and showcases pride of what our ancestors created for us before we are aware of what food we enjoy.  We hope that these tips will help with your next BBQ and make you feel even more comfortable creating BBQ for all.

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