Next up in What Is Black Food?, we met up with Morgan Lynzi, a multifaceted creative “making the revolution irresistible.” She showed us how to make a favorite childhood dish of hers (Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge) and reminisced about the trip she took a few years ago that changed the way she cooks.
What is your cultural heritage? How does your heritage/culture influence your home cooking?
My family and ancestors span the globe: Portuguese, Jamaican, Indian, Black/Creole. The mix of cultures that make up my DNA most often results in fusion dishes at home. Purists may despise the idea of blending cuisines, but personally it’s healing as a mixed/multiethnic person to allow all the parts of me to be seen and co-exist with each other on one plate. I also see it as a tiny act of rebellion in creating a future I love, one where vastly different cultures are amplified, not diluted or reduced by coming in contact with each other. This micro act of building the middle ground on my plate, is what I want to see in the world on the macro.
Does the dish you’re sharing today have a story behind it?
This recipe is from The Rousseau sisters — Jamaican restaurateurs, award-winning cookbook authors, and hosts. I admire the work they do amplifying the culture and specifically the women who fuel it. I’ve made it my own by scaling back on portions slightly and most importantly making it as clean, refined, sugar free, and dairy free as possible, so that the dish is not only comforting, but nourishing for as many people as possible.
What does the term Black food mean to you?
Evidence backs that all modern humans are descended from Africa, therefore Black food is a direct link to the genesis of food to me.
Are there any assumptions made about Black food that you would like to challenge or dispel?
The assumption that any food — whether Black, Asian, or European — is uninfluenced by other cultures is one I personally want to challenge. The recipe I’m sharing is the perfect example of it. We are all products of our multifaceted and multilayered environments. Most are not homogenous in race, culture, thought, or influences. This is why we have Eastern European-influenced Asian cuisine and Middle Eastern-spiced African. We do not exist in these boxes that are one dimensional, and neither does our food.
What experiences and people in your life have shaped your cooking practice and the way you think about food?
Going to Jamaica in 2018 really reignited my desire to cook more foods closer to my roots. That trip reminded me that there is so much more to desire, create, and have than what my immediate environment (North America) is telling me is important.
How do you incorporate joy into your cooking practice?
Cooking is an act of radical joy when we remember that food is meant to nourish and fuel our bodies. When we step foot in our kitchen, or open our fridges with that intention in our hearts and stomachs we are more inclined to enjoy the process of making a meal for ourselves and the people we love. Cooking becomes a joyful act of self and community care when we remember that each meal is an opportunity to feed our cells, the building blocks of all that we are, with each bite.
Where do you hope to see the future of Black food in America / Canada going?
I see marginalized foods taking center stage, and becoming more and more celebrated and sought after in a way that only mass-consumed Western cuisines have been before.
Morgan’s Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge
Black food is powered by women uplifting women in community. Because of this, I have chosen to adapt (to be clean and plant-based) and amplify a recipe from Jamaican food icons, The Rousseau Sisters. Original recipe here.
1 cup organic cornmeal, soaked in 1 cup room-temperature water for 5 -10 minutes
3 cups water
1 can organic coconut milk (I prefer gum free)
A few bay leaves
1/4 tsp. Himalayan pink salt (or salt you have on hand)
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or regular sugar you prefer)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Condensed coconut milk to taste (make by boiling 1 cup coconut cream or coconut milk with 1/4 cup maple syrup or coconut sugar until thick)
Nutmeg to taste (to top off bowls)
- Combine and heat coconut milk, bay leaves, salt, and 3 cups of water over high heat until boiling.
- Whisk in cornmeal mixture with its water, then lower the heat to a simmer. Whisk frequently to prevent lumps and until the cornmeal has thickened and cooked through (about 20 minutes). Add in more water if the cornmeal gets too thick.
- Remove bay leaves and stir in coconut sugar, vanilla extract (I love Simo’s, a Jamaican woman-owned brand!) and condensed milk to taste. Top with nutmeg to taste and enjoy.