Street corn punched up with jerk paste, a refreshing coconut and mango salad, cheesy jalapeno cornbread.
Now that Toronto is in its summer prime and people are more comfortable eating outside, it’s time to punch up the standard picnic and barbecue.
It’s why the Toronto-based Black Foodie media company is encouraging everyone to celebrate Black cuisines with picnics and cookouts during the first “Black Foodie Wknd” on July 24 and 25.
The goal of the weekend, according to a company press release, is to “spotlight cuisines from African, Southern, Afro-Latinx and Caribbean cultures” through cookouts and barbecues, as well as picnics.
Black Foodie founder Eden Hagos wants home cooks to explore the array of outdoor and picnic-friendly foods within these cuisines. Hagos and her team want to change what types of foods are predominantly associated with picnics in North America.
“There are so many incredible hand-held foods and foods prepared outside from the diaspora, so we want to encourage people to take their cultures to the outdoors or introduce these foods to those who aren’t familiar with our cultural staples,” said Black Foodie CEO and editor-in-chief Elle Asiedu, who suggests trying a cold glass of Jamaican sorrel, or tuna katlesi, a Tanzanian appetizer of crispy potato-tuna balls.
“Torontonians are always enthusiastic for something different and we’re trying to make the city a Black food capital in North America,” Asiedu said. “We have one of the most diverse populations of Black people so you can find almost all the food from the diaspora here. These kind of events give people more opportunities to showcase their food and it feels so natural to do this in Toronto.”
On Saturday, Hagos is encouraging people to host their own picnics, while on Sunday the event wants to see people cooking outside. The idea is for people to share photos of their meals with the #bfwknd and #blackfoodiewknd hashtags.
Hagos herself stocked up on jerk marinades and made mango chow chow for her Ethiopian family to try.
“This is for everybody whether they’re in Scarborough or are eating on a condo balcony,” Hagos said. “We want people to eat great and try new recipes. With our programming we want to make this accessible for everyone.”
The event site and Instagram page include food and drink recipes, wine pairing suggestions, music playlists and tips on picnic set-ups. For those who aren’t cooking, there’s a map to search Black-owned businesses by postal code to get takeout. On Saturday evening, there will be a livestreamed performance by Toronto-based singer Kibra on the Black Foodie Instagram page.
Asiedu says that a weekend of eating and cooking outside will add much needed relief after more than a year of staying inside and facing ongoing racial injustices inflicted on Black communities.
“Now there’s an opportunity to go out, especially a year after Black trauma has been everywhere,” she said. “It’s nothing new for Black folks, and the injustices haven’t stopped or died down, but being here and in spaces where we can be ourselves is huge.”
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