Black Americans have celebrated in February for more than a century. Frederick Douglass’ birthday on the 14th fell close to Lincoln’s on the 12th, so the abolitionist and emancipator could be remembered together. Black History Month as we know it started 50 years ago, and you’d think that we might have learned something since then.
But it’s an ongoing effort to recognize the significance of Black Americans’ contribution to the lives we all live today. Here at Wellspent Market, we’ll focus on what we know: food. We started the month helping with a fundraiser for the Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, a Portland-based organization that works to stabilize food systems infrastructure for marginalized communities in the Pacific Northwest. In the weeks ahead we’ll look at the ways Black Americans have influenced how we eat.
In Israel it’s usually breakfast, but our version of eggs cooked in tomato sauce works for any meal. Shakshuka loosely translates from Arabic to “mixture,” and food historians trace its roots to the meaty stews of the Ottomans.
The tomatoes and peppers are relative newcomers, introduced from the New World in the 1500s but quickly adopted around the Mediterranean. The shakshuka we know today likely comes from the part of North Africa called the Maghreb. Algerians make a version with chickpeas, and since we love beans, so did we. The feta isn’t traditional, but it’s tasty.
Shakshuka also appeals because it’s quick, easy, and combines a handful of pantry ingredients with a couple of basic vegetables. Cook onions and peppers in olive oil until soft, add canned tomatoes and cooked beans, then crack a few eggs into the sauce to poach. Serve it right from the skillet with some bread to scoop up the sauce.
The Baird’s grow hazelnuts as well as stone fruits in Oregon’s wine country, and they’re regulars at the Portland Farmers Market. The Dorris hazelnut, named after the first Oregonians to grow filberts (as they’ve been known here for the last century), was developed at Oregon State University in response to a blight that threatened to destroy the state’s crop, which supplies most of the world’s hazelnuts. Larger than other varieties, these Dorris Hazelnuts are great for snacking.