As someone who spends a lot of time watching Food Network—particularly during the holidays when I’m looking for new recipes—I can tell you that it’s not the most diverse channel when it comes to Black cuisine. Yes, there are entertaining personalities like Kardea Brown, Eddie Jackson, Eric Adjepong and Carla Hall, but there’s always more room for expansion. However, it looks like Food Network has heard my complaints, because it has announced the premiere of the new holiday series The Kwanzaa Menu.
Per a press release provided to The Root, beginning Monday, Dec. 26 on FoodNetwork.com, culinary history consultant Tonya Hopkins will host the new show where she and special guests “commemorate each day of Kwanzaa by cooking meaningful dishes and discussing the Nguzu Saba, the seven principles, and history of the holiday.”
If we’re being honest, a lot of us still don’t know the true meaning of Kwanzaa, so using food to expand the reach and understanding of this Black celebration is a great idea. The series also allows people from other races and cultures to learn more about our traditions, which helps them develop a deeper sense of acceptance for our beliefs.
“Celebrating Kwanzaa through good food and drink not only allows us to reconnect to the vibrance of our culinary history that greatly informs who we are as Black people, our very identities— but also to take pride in that which has so profoundly shaped American foodways at large, for centuries,” Hopkins said in a statement. “I intentionally chose fresh, naturally delicious, nutritious ingredients for each of the recipes to remind us of the culinary brilliance our ancestors brought to this New World and served up in ways that have long contributed to vitality and longevity.”
Among the special guests Hopkins will be cooking with are her sister, cultural strategist Kenya Parham; actor Kareem Grimes (All American); Tonya’s father, President of California State University, Dominguez Hills, Dr. Thomas A. Parham; actor Taja V. Simpson (Tyler Perry’s The Oval); social justice advocate and spiritualist Blue Telusma; and chef Brittney “Stikxz” Williams.
The Kwanzaa Menu features some extremely interesting recipes including Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Savory Smoky Sesame Sauce and a Hibiscus Mulled Wine Kwanzaa Mimosa, both of which I will be taking notes on.
“Both my and Tonya’s life work centers around doing all things ‘for the culture!’ This project was a deeply personal labor of love—love for our people, love for ourselves, and love for the principles that anchor our lives,” Kenya Parham told Variety. “To collaborate on this production with my brilliant sister, our family, an all-star (majority Black) crew led by Best Wishes Studio and Food Network is the kind of kismet synergy dreams are made of! We know we’ve created a cultural gem with The Kwanzaa Menu and are tremendously excited for the world to receive it and celebrate with us!”
The Kwanzaa Menu premieres Monday, Dec. 26 on Food Network.com. This year Kwanzaa takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.
Full Series Menu:
- “Umoja” (Unity): Amazing Hibiscus Mulled Wine Kwanzaa Mimosa
- “Kujichagulia” (Self-Determination): Crispy Akara (Black-Eyed Pea Fritters) with Savory Smoky Sesame Sauce
- “Ujima” (Collective Work and Responsibility): Good Deeds Greens
- “Ujamaa” (Cooperative Economics): Black Sable Rice Calas
- “Nia” (Purpose): First Fruits Harvest Smoothie Bowl
- “Kuumba” (Creativity): Yassa-Inspired Grilling
- “Imani” (Faith): Cassava with Peanut Stew