Food Bloggers Take A Bite Out Of Kwanzaa

Thursday marks the fourth day of Kwanzaa, the weeklong celebration of African-American family, culture and life. The holiday also includes feasts that reflect the diversity of the African diaspora. Host Michel Martin speaks with Sanura Weathers, of the blog Kwanzaa Culinarians, about how various food bloggers are making their favorite recipes part of the Kwanzaa tradition.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We'd like to turn our attention now to Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration between Christmas and New Year's Day that celebrates the heritage and culture of African-Americans. It is often celebrated with singing and dancing, or storytelling or poetry. Every day also highlights a principle key to building and strengthening family and a larger community.

Those principles include unity, purpose, responsibility and faith and, as you might hope and expect, there is food. But what do you cook for Kwanzaa? That's where our next guest comes in. Sanura Weathers is the founder of the blog Kwanzaa Culinarians. She's gathered a group of food bloggers to share their favorite recipes from the African Diaspora during the week of Kwanzaa. She publishes recipes to complement each day's Kwanzaa principle.

And Sanura Weathers joins us now from our bureau in New York. Welcome. Happy Kwanzaa. I think Habari Gani is the right greeting, right?

SANURA WEATHERS: Yes. Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So what gave you the idea for Kwanzaa Culinarians?

WEATHERS: The idea originally started with a popular food show host who had a video that went viral when she did an infamous Kwanzaa cake. And, as a food person, the fact that it was made with processed ingredients, you know, I'm laughing, but it was insulting at the same time. And...

MARTIN: But she meant well.

WEATHERS: Yes. She did. I'm sure she meant well, but I said, you know what? There's just so many food bloggers out here, we should really get together and present a few recipes that could represent Kwanzaa coming from our own personal lives and stories and how we - what the African Diaspora is really about.

MARTIN: And it doesn't include red dye number two?

WEATHERS: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Just to name one for you. So, you know, Kwanzaa is relatively new holiday. I mean, I think that's fair to say. I mean, in comparison to, you know, Hanukkah or Christmas or, you know - and every culture around the world celebrates New Year's in some way. So is there a traditional Kwanzaa cuisine that you would point to or a Kwanzaa dish?

WEATHERS: You know what? I think it depends on where you're coming from. I don't believe there is one traditional cuisine or dish, because the African Diaspora is so diverse and when you look at the food bloggers who are involved, we have people from the Caribbean, the South, Northeast, the West Coast, and hopefully next year, we'll have international food bloggers who can contribute their dishes.

So I can personally - because my roots are in the South, I would say red beans and rice or sweet potatoes, greens, black-eyed peas, traditional Southern type of dishes. But for somebody like TriniGourmet, she did this beautiful dish with okra and rice and tomatoes. And then you have people who are vegans, such as Bryant Terry. He submitted a recipe for - it's almost like a candied yams, but it had all these interesting ingredients, I think tamari in it and miso, I think, was in it, also.

MARTIN: So it's just varied, really, as the African...

WEATHERS: Yes.

MARTIN: ...Diaspora, you know, itself. Well, you know, and it also sounds to me that this project - just from reading the blog - it was - got much bigger than you had anticipated. I mean, you are not a Kwanzaa expert. You're a foodie, a self-described foodie. But it sounds to me that you got a far greater response than you expected. Why do you think that is?

WEATHERS: I reached out to people, and they responded, like, yes. I love this idea, or, I don't know much about Kwanzaa, but I really want to learn. And this is my first time in which I've took it upon myself to learn about the principles and about what it really means.

MARTIN: So just moving along, Thursday is the fourth day of Kwanzaa. Today's principle is Ujamaa, or cooperative economics. Tell us about the meals promoted on the blog for today. I'm thinking stew would be the right idea, because everybody - like stone soup, everybody could bring something for the stew.

WEATHERS: You know what?

MARTIN: That's just my idea.

WEATHERS: That's a very good idea.

MARTIN: So I'm going to put you on the spot. What's been your favorite Kwanzaa recipe so far?

WEATHERS: Oh, I think Bryant Terry's roast. I'm still impressed with that. I love Lisa of Anali's First Amendment. She did these scones, I believe, made out of fig and pecan and had this caramel brown butter, or some type of icing on top of it. That would - it looked so delicious and...

MARTIN: Now, where's ours? Where's the kind of spirit of sharing? Where's our sample of the beautiful scones?

WEATHERS: I'm going to - you know what? I'm going to get on her about that. I will let her know that she is - that that is her next assignment.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Okay. Well, Happy Kwanzaa. Thank you for joining us.

WEATHERS: Thank you very much for having me.

MARTIN: Sanura Weathers is the founder of the blog Kwanzaa Culinarians, and she joined us from our bureau in New York. Thank you so much.

WEATHERS: Thank you.

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