When Lisa and I first began developing this project, we sent out a call for essays to some of our favorite writers, including Deesha, whom I’d gotten to know years ago through her column on Literary Mama, The Girl Is Mine.
Deesha wrote about her relationship with her daughters, the death of her parents, and dating after divorce; she wrote about how her kids critiqued her wardrobe choices, and Barbie, and spanking, and everything she wrote was so honest and moving and relevant that she developed a wide audience. I didn’t know what her food story would be, but I knew she’d have a great one.
Turns out, Deesha’s food story is about Soul Food; it’s about learning to fry chicken at her grandmother’s elbow, about turkey neck gravy and collard greens and biscuits. It’s about the history of a food culture, but it’s not a museum piece because, as I mentioned earlier, Deesha’s writing is always relevant. Her essay wonders how she can adapt her soul food upbringing to today’s food ways, how to teach her daughters the kitchen — and life — lessons her grandmother taught her. And she includes a recipe for mac and cheese that will make you seriously want to put Velveeta on your grocery list.
When she’s not hosting her family’s monthly Soul Food Nights, Deesha writes about race, parenting, food, and pop culture for outlets like Essence, Bitch, and The Washington Post; she has also published a book, CoParenting 101: Helping Your Children Thrive After Divorce.