For three weeks in February, Chef Erica Glasco at North Carolina State University was hard at work, cooking up themed meals in honor of Black History Month.
The menus were featured at One Earth, a campus restaurant that offers global cuisines, where Glasco is a supervisor.
Each week’s menu was curated with a specific theme in mind, all relating to Black culture.
The team chose a three-week event because it gave them the opportunity to highlight different types of cuisine and emphasize the wide range of food that comes from Black cultures. To that end, the series featured soul food the first week, followed by Creole cuisine and a “tour of Africa.”
“I wanted to do something other than just soul food. Because there’s so many other Black cuisines out there. And that’s where the Creole and the Tour of Africa came from,” Glasco said.
In addition, Glasco wanted to share recipes that she grew up on, while showcasing her culinary skills.
“I think it’s important because we all love good food, but sometimes, you don’t think about where it came from, you know, and what my ancestors went through. How they took what they were given and just made a good meal, and families just sat around and enjoyed that," said Glasco. "I want my love for cooking to show through.”
Glasco also used her experience to put her unique touch on each recipe: “I followed the recipe, but I don’t think I measured anything for any of these. It was just based off what I’ve learned."
The first menu launched on Feb. 15, and Glasco served fried catfish, mac n cheese and collard greens. For the collard greens recipe, Glasco drew inspiration from Southern soul food chef Edna Lewis.
“She’s known as the grand dame of southern cooking. So instead of doing my collard green recipe, I made hers. And marketed and printed up a nice little display card explaining who she was and her recipe,” Glasco said.
Glasco also served a vegan mushroom pot pie. “[I've] never done just a vegetarian or vegan, you know, everything has to have meat in it. But it was the best thing on the menu and everybody loved it,” she said.
The second week featured an array of Creole dishes, including jambalaya, shrimp etouffee and feijoada, the national dish of Brazil.
“It’s a recipe created by slaves who were left only the scraps of the meat,” Glasco said. “They combined those scraps with black beans and made a delicious stew.”
Week three highlighted dishes from different parts of Africa, such as braai drumsticks from South Africa and maharage, the national dish of Tanzania, which is made from cooking down kidney beans in coconut milk.
Glasco has curated menus for One Earth’s Black History Month celebrations in the past—she began three years ago with a weeklong themed menu, and last year, hosted a Black History Month lunch. In the future, though, she hopes to go “bigger and better.”
“I’m very grateful for them allowing me to present my menus for Black History Month," she said.