Stephen Satterfield is standing at the Door of No Return in Ouidah, Benin, a location in which enslaved folks were forced on to boats for a journey to The us and a daily life of enslavement. Tears very well up as he contemplates the fate of his ancestors who stood in that incredibly place 400 a long time ago. Ouidah is a seemingly strange location to stop by for a tv present about foods.
But the documentary series is about so much far more than food.
Satterfield is an African American food items author, producer, media entrepreneur and host of “Significant on the Hog: How African American Delicacies Transformed The usa,” a Netflix docuseries that chronicles African American historical past and how African cuisine has remodeled the U.S.
Satterfield talked with WPR’s “BETA” about why the series was developed.
“I was just fortuitous to be a part of a larger vision of adapting a quite critical and renowned textual content into a tv series. ‘Higher on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America‘ was initially written about 10 years back by Dr. Jessica B. Harris, food scholar and historian,” Satterfield defined. “It is really actually a tale of the origins of African Americans, as advised through meals. So, we acquire a journey that begins in Benin, West Africa across the Atlantic to Charleston and so on moving chronologically through the sequence, as we do through the Black American expertise.”
As the documentary unfolds, we understand that so quite a few of the food items we get for granted as American cuisine originated in Africa and came about to this country with enslaved people. Individuals meals had been cultivated listed here in this region by these folks. With no their ability and awareness about how to expand and get ready them, they possible would not have grow to be a component of our food culture.
The second episode showcased the rice crucible.
“And I consider the factor about the rice — in particular Oryza glaberrima, which is derivative of West Africa, the renowned Carolina Gold rice that we realized about — it is not just that it was a culinary delicacy. It’s that it was an financial boon for the United States,” Satterfield explained. “This was the most coveted and the most nicely-identified rice in the complete planet. And so, in buy to just take a grain and change it into a worthwhile commodity, you really need to have culinary know-how, sure, but you need agricultural know-how as well.”
The enslaved people today possessed the experience to improve that crop, and once slavery finished, rice generation plummeted simply because no 1 else knew how to cultivate the crops.
As the sequence moves from Benin across the Atlantic, and then from Charleston to Texas, there are stops along the way that expose the prosperous and largely not known background of Black Us residents as a result of the foods they prepare and the elements they use. The influence is eye-opening at the neglected record that is exposed but also the pleasure and celebration that comes with the comprehending of one’s background.
“The things that you see on the display screen as significantly as me convening and breaking bread — that is as authentic as it receives,” Satterfield stated. “We have not genuinely witnessed nearly anything like ‘High on the Hog’ on foodstuff television. I seriously was so in awe of the working experience, not only as somebody who acquired to partake in it, but just as a special giving in the space.
“And I actually hope that it is indicative of the path we’re heading mainly because I think there is a good deal of richness and context and nuance that we are equipped to garner when the host has a form of cultural connection to a place. But acquiring a Black output crew and obtaining a Black host and acquiring the content definitely shift through an individual who has lived the Black American experience helps make for an reliable and emotionally strong moments.”
The 2nd season of “Large on the Hog” is now in the arranging phases. Satterfield explained that the narrative will nevertheless abide by the textual content of the e-book and carry on the story of African American background and food across the U.S.