A Guide to June Food

Celebrated every year on June 19th, Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of those who were enslaved in the United States. History buffs probably know that the Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863. But news of the end of the Civil War and the enslaved receiving their freedom did not reach Galveston, Texas, until June 19, 1865.

After emancipation, the annual Juneteenth celebration became “a time to reassure each other, to pray and to bring the remaining family members together,” according to the holiday’s leading website. became a federal holiday.

Like many holidays, food plays a vital role in the Juneteenth festivities. While typical Juneteenth food is heavy on flavor, it also has a rich history that helps tell the story of Emancipation Day. Here’s what you should know about food and drink in Juneteenth.

What is the role of food?

A celebration is not complete without a variety of dishes prepared with love, and Juneteenth is no different. During June 1st, food is there to nourish, but it is also present for more symbolic reasons. You can’t talk about food in Juneteenth without discussing soul food, red foods, and prosperity meals.

What is soul food?

With roots in America dating back many decades, soul food undoubtedly needs to be on the menu by June 19th. But what exactly is soul food? It is a cuisine traditionally prepared and enjoyed by African Americans in the southern United States. It usually consists of dishes that incorporate beans, vegetables, cornmeal and pork. Each of these key ingredients can be used to create a range of staples like cornbread, fried fish, stew and chitterlings, not always fan favorites.

What is the meaning of red food in Juneteenth?

There is a richness and exuberance in the color red that resonated with those who celebrated the first of June. Interestingly, there is also a more diaspora-oriented reason why the color red is so important to Juneteenth dishes.

“Texas was at the end of the world for the pre-war south. There were many enslaved Africans who came to Texas from the mainland and the Caribbean. The color red is highly associated with cultures that would have come through the later years of trade, that would have been Yoruba and Kongo,” culinary historian and writer Michael Twitty shared with Oprah Daily.

And, as chef Millie Peartree wrote, the color red also “symbolizes and represents the bloodshed and resilience of enslaved people.”

From drink specials to main courses, there’s certainly no shortage of red foods at a June 16th party. The most popular red foods are Juneteenth Punch, red velvet cupcakes, and hot links.

What is a prosperity meal and why is it served?

Many of us are probably familiar with the heady aroma of a pan of cowpeas cooking on New Year’s Eve. And the burner next to it? A boiling pot of kale. These foods are prepared on December 31st to celebrate the new year and bring good luck.

Six months later, on June 16, these two dishes and others are summoned once again for a similar purpose. Prosperity meals at Juneteenth are “about celebrating good fortune and wishing for the best,” said Michiel Perry, lifestyle expert and creator of the Black Southern Belle brand. Meals usually include side dishes like black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread, cabbage, and sweet potatoes.

What are Juneteenth’s most popular dishes?

Whether you’re a Patti in the kitchen or more of a beginner, there are a variety of Juneteenth-inspired recipes you can whip up for the holiday. They range in difficulty from simple to “leave this dish to your aunt”.

Cornbread is always a great place to start, and it’s a must in Juneteenth. It’s simple enough for anyone to do, and even kids can indulge in this one. To make the cornbread, mix together the bacon fat (or canola oil), cornmeal, baking soda, kosher salt, honey, egg, buttermilk, and butter. Bake and you’re all set!

If you really want to cook in Juneteenth, fried catfish is the way to go. Dredging and frying are a must, and adding your own special seasonings is always welcome.

Feeling thirsty? You can’t go wrong with a chilled glass of Juneteenth Punch. This ruby ​​red drink combines cranberry juice, ginger ale (or 7Up), strawberry ice cream and a handful of fruit juices. It’s particularly refreshing in the sweltering June heat.

No matter how you celebrate June 1 this year, honoring those who came before us, showing respect and enjoying good food are necessary ingredients.

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