Food: A Link in African American Culture Essay

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Food: A Link in African American Culture

Four different people, four different lifestyles, all with at least one thing in common—their races (or so we have yet to discover). I began my interviews wanting to show the similarities and differences in eating habits and traditions with the African American perspective in mind. Although race is used as the combining factor in this situation, each individual’s lifestyle, cultural behavior, and even eating habits are all very unique. My interviewees consisted of four Americans, as mentioned before all of same race, with similar yet very distinct backgrounds. They range from a black Jew, to a “Jamerican,” to what I would call a “traditional southerner”, right on down to a modern day Muslim.
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Outside of his religion, JJ Alex engages in other traditions that affect the food he eats. Thanksgiving was always a custom in his house as far as he can remember. He and his family enjoy turkey, stuffing, collard greens, candied yams (sweet potatoes) and many other dishes on this day. What surprised me was that many of his dishes mentioned had a lot of southern influence to them. I thought to myself “how does someone who was born and raised in the northeast be exposed to so much southern style food?” I then proceeded to ask, “So where does the southern edge come from?” He told me that his mother’s side of the family is originally from Texas. He can remember his grandfather’s famous collard greens, dumplings, and pickled cucumbers.
He also recalled his grandmother’s ‘Won’t Last’ cake, banana bread, and preserves.
These recipes, he told me, were passed form generation to generation. From my interview with JJ Alex I observed that both the religious and traditional aspects helped to shape his eating habits.

After my interview with JJ Alex, I then wanted to take my questions to that of the southern part of the United States. “Michelle” is a 16-year-old African American female born and raised in South Carolina. Although she and JJ Alex are from two entirely different regions and religious backgrounds, they do share some similarities in the foods they eat. Michelle is a Christian who was brought up attending an A.M.E. (African
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