Portrait of Jessica B. Harris with a stack of books

Jessica B. Harris

Jessica B. Harris, Ph.D. is a culinary historian and the author of 13 books related to the African diaspora, including Vintage Postcards from the African World (University Press of Mississippi), My Soul Looks Back (Scribner) and High on the Hog (Bloomsbury USA). She is the 2020 recipient of the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award.

In this installment of our series on foods of the African diaspora, Jessica B. Harris makes a case for an often-maligned vegetable and shares a delicious recipe.
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Salada de Quiabo (Okra Salad)
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This easy salad, which is inspired by similar salads served in Brazil, bursts with acidity and flavor thanks to the slightly spicy vinaigrette. Blanching the okra helps retain its crunch and color. Read more about Jessica B. Harris' experience with Salada de Quiabo here.
In this installment of our series on foods of the African diaspora, Jessica B. Harris takes us to the Fête des Cuisinières in Guadeloupe with a Creole salad made with christophine—a squash that goes by many names.
This easy summer salad, which is inspired by similar salads served in Guadeloupe, features the squash that is called christophine in Guadeloupe, chayote in Mexico and parts of the U.S., chocho in Jamaica, xuxu in Brazil and mirliton in New Orleans. It makes a refreshing foil to Caribbean curries and other spicy dishes. Read more about this recipe here.
In this installment of our series on foods of the African diaspora, Jessica B. Harris offers a recipe for leg of lamb that honors Tabaski, the Feast of the Sacrifice.
This fragrant leg of lamb is seasoned with blood orange juice, garlic, cumin, ras el hanout and grains of paradise. Read more about this recipe.
In this installment of our series on foods of the African diaspora, Jessica B. Harris offers a red-hued salute to her ancestors.
This sparkling lemonade is inspired by red drink, a red strawberry soda that is traditionally served for Juneteenth. Read more about red drink in the essay "For Many in Texas and Beyond, It's Just Not Juneteenth Without Red Drink."
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In this installment of our series on foods of the African diaspora, Jessica B. Harris offers her version of Morocco’s favorite accompaniment for grilled fish.
Moroccan Chermoula
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North Africa's verdant green chermoula sauce brings Mediterranean savor to summer grilled fish. My preferred fish for summer grilling is a good-sized porgy, which is a medium-fatty, firm-fleshed white fish with a mild flavor and edible skin. (The fish are called scup in Massachusetts and parts of New England; in other parts of the country, similar fish may be called sea bream, sheepshead or grunt.) But this sauce is perfect as a condiment with just about any grilled fish. You could also use it on seafood, meat or vegetables. If you prefer a more robust garlicky flavor, feel free to add more garlic to taste.
In this installment of our series on foods of the African diaspora, Jessica B. Harris offers a culinary cheat that will ramp up the flavor of any meal—without the search for (or expense of) springtime's elusive wild vegetable.
You can use this easy mixture of sautéed scallions and garlic in place of wild ramps—which can be hard to find and pricy—in just about any dish. Add the mixture to omelets and sauces, stir-fry it with rice and the protein of your choice, serve it with steak, fish or chicken and chop it up and add it to compound butter. Read more about ramps.
In this installment of our series on foods of the African diaspora, Jessica B. Harris explores the history of this spicy marinade that transforms fish, poultry or shellfish into an island treat.
Jamaican Escovitch Fish
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This is a traditional way that fish is served in Jamaica that is similar to the escabeches of the Spanish-speaking islands. It is traditionally served with bammy (also spelled bammie), a cassava flatbread, but I like to eat it with rice to better soak up the marinade. This recipe makes four cups of pickled vegetables: You can use it all or reserve some and use the leftovers as a complement to other fish or meat dishes or in sandwiches. Read more about this recipe in the article This Tangy Escovitch Fish Connects Jamaica to Its Spanish Past.
During the Great Migration, millions of African Americans left the South and settled in the rest of the United States, bringing rich culinary traditions with them—sweet potato pie, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, barbecue and so much more.  
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In this recipe, black-eyed peas get a wonderful smoky flavor from slab bacon. If you skip it for a vegetarian version, boost the flavor by doubling the garlic, adding a bay leaf, substituting vegetable stock for the water and adding a dash of smoked paprika for a slightly smoky taste.
Jessica's Coleslaw
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Culinary historian and cookbook author Jessica B. Harris shares this classic coleslaw recipe, made with green and red cabbage, cider vinegar and a splash of tangy buttermilk. A bit of sugar balances the vinegar's acid, but adjust the sweetness to your preference. Serve it with fried fish, sandwiches, burgers or any other picnic or BBQ fare.
Jessica's Potato Salad
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For this classic potato salad, culinary historian and cookbook author Jessica B. Harris riffs on her mother's recipe, adding hard-boiled eggs and sweet pickle relish. Serve this easy and flavorful potato salad alongside fried fish or just about any main course.
Fried Porgies
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Porgy, also referred to as scup or bream, is a medium-fatty, firm-fleshed white fish with a mild flavor and edible skin. It takes very well to battering and frying, as in this recipe. If you can't find porgy, any medium-size, firm-fleshed white fish will work in this delicious recipe (skinned if desired). Buttermilk helps the cornmeal coating stick to the fish and keeps the fish moist, while seafood seasoning adds a nice kick. Ask your fishmonger to clean the fish and remove the heads and fins.
Culinary historian and author Jessica B. Harris shares the history of the Emancipation celebration and three recipes for the holiday: crispy fried fish, creamy potato salad and colorful coleslaw.