How Black Food and Faith Sacredly Intertwine

What’s your favorite dish? Take a moment to think about it and the happiness it brings. Though we usually think about food nourishing the body, there’s a sacred connection that soothes our spirits, too.

How Black Food and Faith Sacredly Intertwine
Via Wikimedia Commons

We gather round tables with bowed heads, embracing each others’ hands and hearts, with words of gratitude. Saying grace isn’t just a habit. For our people, it’s one example of how food has always intertwined with spirituality–a delicious mix of sacred and secular. 

Black-eyed peas are sacred ingredients used in many essential dishes across the diaspora. In the US, they show up in Hoppin’ John, a rice and pea pilaf eaten on New Year’s Eve for good luck. In Brazil, Acarajé is a black-eyed pea fitter popularly sold on the streets but also is favored by orisha deities of the Candomblé religion like Ogun. 

Soda drinkers may not even realize the sacred implications of their adoration for carbonated cola. Kola nuts are native to West Africa and have historically been used for medicinal healing, as currency, and sworn upon in religious ceremonies

Many traditional African and diasporic religions embrace the sanctity of our foodstuffs by offering them to communicate with dieties, like Oshun, whose favorites include honey, oranges, coconut, and pumpkin. 

For generations, our people have used food to communicate with ancestors, offering foods they once enjoyed by placing them on altars and other memorials. 

Black food has always been sacred. When we embrace our foods as the divine dishes they are, we’re honoring ourselves, Spirit, and those who came before us. Which of your favorite foods brings you joy?

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