From dawn to dusk during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex in order to purify themselves, learn humility, pray and concentrate on Allah's teachings. Sarah Mahmood is an intern on Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien and a junior at Wellesley College and shares this story of her family's traditional Indian celebration.
This might be the first Ramadan that my parents wonʼt complain about how theyʼve gained weight, despite having fasted the entire month.
After a long, hungry day of fasting, itʼs easy to overcompensate when you can finally eat. It doesnʼt help that in South Asia, the meal eaten to break the fast (Iftari or Iftar in other parts of the Muslim world), consists primarily of fried food.
Now that Ramadan is in the summer though, and the sun sets later at 8 pm, fewer families are having the traditional fare. Itʼs too hectic to prepare and eat two meals just before going to bed, and so many are skipping straight to dinner.
Jesse Friedman and Laura Hadden are cooking their way around the world.
The Brooklyn couple has set out on a multi-year project to throw a dinner party featuring the cuisine of each of the 193 United Nations member countries - in alphabetical order, no less. They document the experience, complete with pictures and recipes, on their blog, United Noshes.
Thus far, they’ve cooked 36 meals - starting with Afghanistan and ending with China.
It was a few minutes before 11 a.m. and Bill Adams had two things on his mind: Brunswick stew and cracklin cornbread.
To satisfy his craving for meat stew and fried pig skin, this lifelong Georgia boy made the hour-long drive Tuesday from his home in Griffin to Harold’s Barbecue in south Atlanta. When he and his friends learned this was to be Harold’s last week in business, they made plans for a final pilgrimage.
“Just wanted to stop by for one last meal,” the longtime patron said as he waited in the restaurant’s dusty parking lot for doors to open. He wasn't alone; there were about a dozen others, including a pair of Georgia State Troopers.
“It’s inevitable. Everything changes. Nothing lasts forever,” he said. “We don’t like it but we can’t stop it.”
Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs, writers and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian, living history interpreter and Jewish educator from the Washington D.C. area. He blogs at Afroculinaria.com and thecookinggene.com. As the originator of the Cooking Gene Project, he seeks to trace his ancestry through food.
Edward Booker, Hattie Bellamy and Washington Twitty didn’t know what an organic farm was, but nearly everything they ate was organic. They enjoyed wild caught, sustainable fish; they were no strangers to free range chickens, and they ate with the seasons with almost nothing originating more than a mile or two away from their cabin door. They had gardens, composted, and ate no processed foods. Their food was fairly simple, often meatless; and it was a fusion cuisine, with ingredients drawn from five continents.
They were not culinary revolutionaries living out of the foodie playbook - they were three enslaved individuals living among the over 4 million held in bondage before the Civil War, and they were my ancestors.
In the upcoming months I will return to the fields, forests and waterways of the Old South in search of my culinary version of Roots, tracing my family tree through food from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom. The project is called The Cooking Gene: Southern Discomfort Tour.
When 33-year-old Ashoo Mongia visits the supermarket it's rarely for stocking up his fridge for the week. As head of a cow protection enforcement team, he regularly scours Delhi grocery stores and outdoor markets for food products containing cow beef.
For the last 15 years, Mongia and his team of 120 Delhi-based volunteers have thrown themselves in a battle that pits India's billon-dollar meat industry and growing underground beef trade against Hindu traditionalists keen on preserving the holy status of cows.
Cubans may live surrounded by water but the food that incites the most passion and culinary debate does not swim or slither. That honor is reserved for puerco asado, pork cooked over coals in the traditional style of the Cuban countryside.
As with many Cubans, Anselmo “Don” Bello swears on his honor that he cooks the best puerco asado on the entire island.
But unlike most of those other would-be top chefs, Bello’s phone rings off the hook each day with people asking him, pleading with him for one of his whole cooked pigs.
“Most people don’t know what a real Creole meal is,” Bello said, referring to the term for the Caribbean’s jumble of European and New World cultures. “The taste of the seasoning, the oregano, the onion, garlic and bitter orange. That’s been lost but we are rescuing it.”
Don Bello is leading his crusade to save Cuba’s culinary traditions in San Antonio del Rio Blanco, a small, country town, an hour inside of Havana.
Kat Kinsman is a very proud member of and cheerleader for the Southern Foodways Alliance. That was not always the case.
The very first spoonful of grits I ever tasted was one jammed through my clamped lips and clenched teeth by the hand of my first real boyfriend. His other one was pinching my nostrils shut, and it quickly became a choice between perishing in a grimy, vinyl-upholstered booth in a Baltimore greasy spoon or choking down the food I'd eschewed for the first 18 years of my life. I opened up and swallowed hard.
I'm from Kentucky, and for a very long time, I didn't know what to do with that. It's a border state – neither quite the North nor the South, and to make matters more confusing, I spent ages 2 to 18 in Northern Kentucky, which isn't enthusiastically claimed by either side.
Some Cincinnatians enjoy a joke about the peril faced by passengers taking the lower half of a bridge connecting their fair city with the Bluegrass State just yonder over the majestic Ohio River. A Kentuckian will, naturally, wish to free their feet from the cruel and unusual imposition of those "shoes" those fancy Buckeye staters insist upon and pitch them from the windows of their pickup trucks, endangering all below. Hardy har.
CNN photojournalist John Bodnar is a second-generation Slavic-American whose grandparents emigrated from Eastern Slovakia, and his mother’s Carpatho-Rusyn ethnicity is the prominent influence for his cultural and family traditions. Here is an introduction to the comfort foods that he grew up on.
Cabbage, onions, potatoes and carrots are used in many ethnic dishes from Eastern Slovakia. Coincidentally, my grandparents settled in western Pennsylvania, which has a similar climate and growing season as their homeland, so maintaining the native cuisine was not at all difficult.
Most families and relatives that I knew growing up had a backyard vegetable garden, and these gardens produced quite a large variety of fresh rooted and vine-ripened staples. My father and uncles seemed to be especially proud of the hot peppers that they grew, and a friendly rivalry of whose was best was quite evident - though my uncle Mike usually won the unofficial competition.
The local backyard farmers were always generous with their harvests. Sharing with neighbors, or the elderly who couldn’t grow their own gardens, was a common practice. The produce that couldn’t be eaten immediately was soon canned and set aside for the winter months. My mother and grandmother usually took care of the canning, and the fresh aroma of the canning process is indelibly etched in my memory.
Marcus Samuelsson and Roblé Ali are two different chefs.
Samuelsson, 41, is an established name amongst foodies and the proprietor of Red Rooster, a renown Harlem restaurant.
Ali, 27, is an up and coming chef and animated reality-show star who works full time as an established caterer.
Samuelsson has made a name for himself embracing his identity as both a black chef and a Swedish immigrant to the United States, but younger chefs like Ali find themselves pushing back against being known simply as a “black chef.” Ali, who’s still building his brand, was frustrated when a blog author unexpectedly labeled him a “hip-hop chef.”
“Who takes you serious when you’re the hip hop chef?” said Ali. “And why am I the hip hop chef, because I’m black? I’m not break dancing.”
Previously - a Secret Supper at Red Rooster