Netflix Mini-Series Delves into the Roots, Resourcefulness, and Resilience of Black American Foodways

published Apr 23, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, a four-part documentary series coming to Netflix on May 26, brings Dr. Jessica B. Harris’ book of the same name to life by exploring the history, lore, and traditions of Black foodways in America. The series is hosted by Stephen Satterfield, a food writer and the founder of Whetstone, the much-loved food media and magazine company.

Dr. Harris, an award-winning food journalist and one of the foremost authorities on African American foodways, published the book a decade ago. The New York Times described it as an “account of how African slaves, thrust into a strange land, carried with them the taste memories, cooking techniques and agricultural practices of their homelands and transformed the way Americans ate,” and a lively one at that. 

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Now Satterfield brings it to life, talking to chefs, historians, and activists as he explores the cuisine’s roots in Benin with Dr. Harris; the role of enslaved people in American agriculture in Charleston; the intersection of U.S. Founding Fathers and Black chefs in Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania; and how all this history rolls into current cooking culture in Texas. 

In addition to the mouth-watering West African stews, whole-hog barbecue, and Black expertise in fine-dining, the team behind the series — Dr. Harris, Satterfield, and Executive Producer and Director, Roger Ross Williams — are all known for their in-depth and honest takes that refuse to sugarcoat or erase details, so viewers should expect unvarnished reality in the extensive history and stunning visual storytelling. To wit: When asked why there hasn’t been a show like this before, Williams answers, simply, “Racism.”