Mount Pleasant Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

80 | | For Filosa, the meal is just part of what makes the holiday special—mostly it’s about spending quality time with family. “I’m in the kitchen all day cooking and I have grown children who have children, so my house is usually the last stop, so the kids end up with me to enjoy a beverage and enjoy time together.” KWANZAA While Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, its roots date back centuries. Kwanzaa was created as a means for AfricanAmericans to celebrate their cultural heritage and honor the traditions of their ancestors and their place in modern-day America. The seven principles of Kwanzaa, as represented by seven candles, include unity, collective responsibility, community and faith. I spoke with Sara J. Nesbit, CEO of Kwanzaa Experience South Carolina, and RaGina Saunders, head of the hospitality committee for the Kwanzaa Experience, about the food traditions associated with Kwanzaa. According to Nesbit, “the dishes that are prepared are actually dishes that our families prepare throughout the year. Yams, greens and seafood are served throughout the year, but they are also staples of the Kwanzaa table.” Not surprisingly, in South Carolina Kwanzaa meals and traditional Gullah Geechee dishes are often one and the same. Dishes from Nigeria, like jollof rice, Senegaleseinspired jambalaya or Ethiopian-style flatbread, are mixed among Southern staples such as stewed okra and tomatoes, greens and rice dishes. Kwanzaa embraces its pan-African roots in each meal. In lieu of breakfast, celebrants often fast, partaking of only water as it’s a symbol of purity and is the essence of life. Lunch might be a simple meal, but dinner is the focus, offering an opportunity to join families and friends in a communal dining experience. Chicken, fish, rice, cornbread, black-eyed peas, yams, soups and fruits like pineapple adorn the table. Meals are served family style to reinforce the principles of Kwanzaa. Nesbit said her favorite Kwanzaa dish is always yams cooked with butter, cinnamon, sugar and honey. For Saunders, fufu, a West African dish made with sweet potatoes, is her favorite and one she only makes during Kwanzaa. To Nesbit, Kwanzaa is about community building. “We break bread together, it’s a learning experience for everyone—friends, neighbors, co-workers,” she explained. “It’s our endeavor to teach our children our history and our culture.” on the menu License #: 123442 843-593-1554 JANON.GERMAN@GMAIL.COM SCAN TO SEE MY CURRENT LISTINGS! I’m Your Neighbor! Hi! Charleston Knob Co Fun at your Fingertips!