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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 explores the history of this spicy marinade that transforms fish, poultry or shellfish into an island treat.
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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.  
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.
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.
Jessica's Potato Salad
Rating: Unrated
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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.
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.
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