Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) is a celebration of freedom, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. This day has been acknowledged by individual U.S. cities and states since as early as 1866s, and (finally!) became recognized as a federal holiday in 2021.
Kevin Young, Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, has described Juneteenth as “an opportunity for friends and loved ones to gather together in fellowship and food, reflecting on the profound contributions of African Americans to our nation’s progress.” “But which food, exactly?” you might ask...
Having been influenced by the availability of local ingredients, regional traditions, and the diversity of the African American diaspora, African American cuisine is enormously varied. Depending on where you’re celebrating and who’s doing the cooking, you might encounter traditional dishes of the agricultural south (fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, and hoppin’ john, for example), or northeast specialties like walleye, oysters, and crab cakes. A traditional creole coast celebration might feature catfish, duck, and one-pot meals like gumbo or jambalaya, whereas a western party might be likelier to showcase pit-style barbecue.
The best news, of course, is that with so many delicious options to choose from, you just can’t go wrong. That said, here are some favorite Juneteenth-inspired recipes for young chefs:
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