Sunday Dinner #1: JAMAICA, JAMAICA
Over the weekend my friend Chandanie and I hosted a get together called “Sunday Dinner.” We all know Sunday dinner to be a family staple, a time when we all gather and bond over delicious food. Chandanie felt inspired and wanted to bring folks together, but in an effort for people of color to learn about our diverse heritage. Last summer she and I hosted a picnic called the Express Yaself Picnic, where we invited creatives to come and share their souls through poetry, music, or art work. It was a beautiful experience of unity and expression, and no doubt Sunday Dinner was just an extension of the same vibes.
For our first dinner, we focused on Jamaican culture. (Can you guess whose idea this was?) There was seven of us and each of us brought ingredients. Instead of the typical potluck where everyone brings a dish, we wanted everyone to contribute to the same meal. The kitchen was consumed with the intoxicating smell of island flavor — jerk chicken sizzled, fragrant coconut milk rice steamed, and spiced curry chickpeas baked (for my meatless option — it was yummy but I wanted that jerk chicken BAD!) We stuck to fresh veggie based ingredients for the majority of the dinner — an essential aspect of the traditional African diet. We paid homage to old school recipes like the jerk chicken with rice and peas, but also highlighted new school plates like saltfish bruschetta.
Reggae chunes kept us swaying all night, with some poetry from the iconic and legendary (and my new fave artist) Louise Bennett Coverly played in between. As I was researching different national heroes and influencers for the dinner, I discovered how much of my history I went so long without knowing. Even my own grandfather, Lord Flea (aka Norman Thomas), a pioneer of calypso music, is somewhat of a mystery to me. Sunday Dinner offered more than I expected: history lessons, soul food, and self-discovery.
While the cooking and rum cocktails kept spirits high, perhaps the most powerful part of our dinner was the table discussions. Seven women of color with shared identities, yet varied experiences, sat down together and unleashed our musings, pains, and dreams. I’m not sure if the music volume lowered or just our voices elevated, but the prevailing sound throughout the room was sisterhood.
Just a day before, my mother’s birthday, I was feeling pretty low. A year ago this time, she was really sick and for the first time ever I imagined not having a mother anymore. Thank God this year she is healthy and lively as ever! Yet still, her birthday triggered a complex sadness that just swallowed me up. For the very next day to be such an awesome experience proves to me that self-care is not just some overused social media phrase, but a true remedy for the mind, body, and soul.
When I got home, I felt sure of life. I felt ready for the week. I felt just how resilient I really am — and this is something I totally dismissed just a day before. Today is Monday and I’m starting the week off with highbrations and a strong mind. If there’s any nugget of wisdom I can share it’s feed your soul with nourishing energy and filling moments. Yesterday’s Sunday Dinner was just what I was craving.