First Juneteenth cookbook features traditional red dishes

Jaime E. Love

“Black joy often emanates from Black sorrow,” food writer Nicole A. Taylor observes in her new cookbook “Watermelon & Red Birds.” Whether it’s a family funeral, community grieving or national mourning throughout civil rights struggles, that affecting intersection of sorrow and joy plays out time and again as pain and suffering begets triumph and jubilation.

Such was the case for the birth of “Watermelon & Red Birds,” the first cookbook devoted to Juneteenth. Taylor said she realized she was the right person to write a Juneteenth cookbook when George Floyd was murdered in May 2020, triggering a summer of protests demanding racial justice. Black joy and celebrations, she said, needed to be a part of the conversation during this dark time, specifically the healing comforts of food. “In the midst of sorrow, Black people and Black hands have been so important to the American table,” she said.

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