Black Food H(er)story : Edna Lewis
It’s Black History Month (my favorite time of the year).I decided to write this post about a black woman who made culinary history. A woman who is still being celebrated to this day for her contributions to the food world.The majestic black woman you see above is Edna Lewis.
Edna was born in a farm settlement in Orange County Virginia in 1916. Her grandfather was an emancipated slave. I’m sure she learned a lot about food, race, freedom, and culture from her family in Virginia during those years. It’s been reported that in Edna’s late teen years (18/19) she moved to New York City and worked various jobs until she was finally able to get in the kitchen and develop her passion. People close to Edna said she was very soft spoken but very passionate about educating others on fresh farm grown foods as well as preserving the authentic taste of Southern food. No wonder she was crowned in 1999 as the “Dame of Southern Cooking.”
Once Edna made it her goal to preserve the authentic tastes of Southern food, she stood strong and made herself known in the food world even when little to no blacks were represented.
During her years on this earth she accomplished so much!
Edna’s story hit home for me because I grew up eating Southern (along with West Indian) food. I was always in the kitchen with my grandmothers while they cooked and I can appreciate the essence and pride of cooking southern cuisine. It’s the food of a certain type of prideful people. Edna is aspiring for all black female chefs or any black female in the food industry period.
She broke barriers for all of us!
Edna Lewis published (4) cookbooks throughout her life time:
- The Edna Lewis Cookbook (1972)
- The Taste of Country Cooking (1976)
- In Pursuit of Flavor (1988)
- The Gift of Southern Cooking (2003)
She also received multiple James Beard Awards. If you know anything about the culinary world, you know that’s a HUGE achievement. In 1995 she received the James Beard Living Legend Award (the first award of its kind) and in 2003 Edna was inducted into the KitchenAid Cook Hall of Fame which is associated with James Beard as well.
Her first cook book was published in 1972 but she’s still relevant in 2017. Edna’s recipes are even being talked about on popular food shows like Top Chef.
Edna Lewis was a culinary legend and that should be known to all! She is not the “black Julia Childs”, she is EDNA LEWIS — “The Dame of Southern Cooking”
If you would like to know more on the Dame Edna Lewis here are a few links I’ve come across:
- Edna Lewis’ Wiki = http://bit.ly/2kaccfO
- National Women’s History Museum = http://bit.ly/2kyu4nY
- NPR: 2006: A ‘Tase of Southern Cooking’, 30 Years Later = http://n.pr/2luL4sV
- Youtube: In the Season, The Edna Lewis Story = http://bit.ly/2kaeueL
- NPR: 2006: Memories of Southern Chef Edna Lewis = http://n.pr/2kalzMd