Kwanzaa Food Traditions: Popular African American Food Traditions Practiced During Kwanzaa
“Kwanzaa food traditions- Popular African American Food Traditions practiced during Kwanzaa” was the topic of the symposium organized by our local American–African Residential society. The symposium was a curtain raiser for the week long activities organized by African–American society, beginning from December 26th 2010 to January 1st 2011. The week long festivities are marked with fun filled events, lectures, and of course foods. Every year as a part of the routine, I and my friends only concentrated on the food served during the buffets. Beyond that we rarely thought about the Kwanzaa food traditions and their origins. But the symposium helped us in big way to understand the Kwanzaa Food traditions and importance of some of the popular African American foods served during Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa Food: Benny Cakes
Benny Cakes are sesame cookies, which are normally served during all special African celebrations. Sesame seeds are believed to bestow luck, that’s why they are served during Kwanzaa celebrations.
Kwanzaa Food: Okra Croutons
Okra is a major ingredient in African cuisine, and today it has become an integral part of many of the food traditions practiced around the world. The African slaves introduced it to the New World. And colonists introduced them to the countries where they ruled. Okra is used as the principal ingredient in a Creole stew called gumbo because it is believed that okra is bestowed with some extraordinary spiritual powers.
Kwanzaa Food: Jollof Rice
Jollof Rice or “Benachin” meaning one pot is a dish served throughout Africa. Its origin is attributed to the Wolof ethnic group of Gambia, and Senegal. It is mostly favored and savored throughout Africa because you can use all handy ingredients in the preparation of the rice. Normally tomatoes, rice, tomato paste, onion, spices and salt are used in the preparation of this food. But you can use any kind of meat, vegetable or herbs to prepare this rice.
Kwanzaa Food: Yassa Chicken
Yassa is the marinated dish made using the fish or poultry. Yassa has Senegambian origins and it is popular throughout Africa. Chicken Yassa is the speciality of the Casamance region in Senegal, and is popularly prepared and served throughout West Africa. Yassa chicken is prepared using lemon and onions and is served during the Kwanzaa. Yassa chicken has become an integral part of South American cuisine.
Kwanzaa Food: Sweet Potato Fritters
Sweet potato fritters are prepared and savored on the last of the Kwanzaa. Africans are fond of Yams, but sweet potato is more popular amongst the African American population. The African slaves who arrived on the land believed that sweet potato was a sort of yam because of it’s strong resemblance to the vegetable. Historically speaking, about 300 years ago sweet potatoes served as a form of currency in some of the African nations. These fritters can be served as savory if you discard the sugar and cinnamon from the original recipe and replacing them by onion, mint, chives, and herbs.
Image courtesy: dianasdesserts.com