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High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America
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High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  186 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Acclaimed cookbook author Jessica B. Harris weaves an utterly engaging history of African American cuisine, taking the reader on a harrowing journey from Africa across the Atlantic to America, and tracking the trials that the people and the food have undergone along the way. From chitlins and ham hocks to fried chicken and vegan soul, Harris celebrates the delicious and re ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 24th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Leslie Reese
Dec 26, 2013 Leslie Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, food
This book is a rich, tasty stew made of historical broth and seasoned with facts and figures, cultural reflections both sweet and savory, and anecdotes on the spectrum between horrific and triumphant. Jessica B. Harris’s culinary journey traces the arts of cultivating, harvesting, processing, cooking, and serving food which enslaved Africans brought to American shores, along with foods such as watermelon, okra, and blackeyed peas. She explains the origins of what is typically known as African Am ...more
On Point
Listen to what Jessica Harris has to say about her "High on the Hog" here:

Our word for okra comes from the Igbo language in Nigeria. Gumbo, the word itself, harks back to the Bantu. So does “goober,” as in peanut.

Watermelons appear in Egyptian tomb paintings, and have been grown for centuries in the Kalahari. Black-eyed peas pour out of markets from Dakar to Zanzibar – and across soul food menus and kitchen counters all over America.

African-American food and food ways have
May 13, 2011 Cinnamon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. And while I felt I knew a fair amount about the impact that Africans who came to the US as slaves had on our culinary history, I had no idea how much they influenced our farming techniques and abilities. Without slaves from Africa we would have had no rice culture in the south, or the ability to grow it. And animal husbandry skills would have been horrible and unable to sustain the cities that were growing during the 1800s. We owe a lot more to African cul ...more
Feb 02, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating and highly readable book and an important contribution to the social and culinary history of African Americans (and by extension, all Americans). Her use of primary sources, stories of real people, and personal experiences combined smoothly. There are a few pages of recipes at the end, but don't pick this up expecting a cookbook. It's much more than that. The only criticism I have is that it could have used more careful editing. There are places throughout the book where th ...more
Dec 11, 2013 Shawna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most comprehensive history of African American food. I loved it
Nina Chachu
Enjoyable, rather personal history of African American food. Some recipes. Some of the historical background is fascinating.
Feb 23, 2017 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an enjoyable read. Jessica B. Harris's storytelling was so compelling and interesting that I didn't want to finish the book, but unfortunately I could only make it last so long.
Jan 30, 2011 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Themes: food, slavery, race, family, work,
Setting: Africa and the US

I didn't get what I expected from this book. I think what I expected was something along the lines of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, by Jennifer 8 Lee, only about African American food, with the author picking one or two ingredients to highlight and telling how they came from there to here, picking a few popular recipes, maybe her family's favorites or some regional recipes, spotlighting some key historical figures, debunking a
Jan 17, 2011 Debra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, history
High on the Hog reviews the history of Africans in the western hemisphere, concentrating on the US, through food. Much of the book quotes primary sources. She demonstrates how food, recipes and even manners survived the slave period to become pervasive throughout American culture. Not only in the country south realm of blackeyed peas, fried chicken and watermelon (although she discusses that cuisine in depth as well)but also in the more rarified heights of high end restaurants and celebrity chef ...more
Marsha Nelson
Dec 10, 2010 Marsha Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
High on the Hog is about the history of southern cooking in America. It delves into the background of the recipes, manners of cooking, and the passage of this knowledge from generation to generation going back to the slaves. It is not a cookbook but contains some authentic recipes that have survived through time. At times I found it a bit dry but if read in stages it is easy to maintain interest and focus. I learned a great deal about a subject in which I was obviously lacking knowledge and for ...more
Lynda Brown
Won this on first reads giveaway, can't wait to review it.
This book wasn't at all what I thought it would be, but was pleasantly surprised.
High on the Hog is a history of foods and recipes,starting in Africa continuing to North America including
the Caribbean, passing on from generation to generation. Not only a culinary history of African Americans,but also a basic history lesson as well. The combination of stories of real people and personal experiences ,makes for a very interesting book.
Sep 15, 2015 Cindywho rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, food
A student handed this to me- he'd only read it 1/2 way through but thought it was great. The best parts were in the first half, so I told him that was the case. Harris traces the foodways of the Africans that were shipped to and later emigrated to the United States. Many chefs were African American and influenced Southern food to a large degree. The stories are interesting and chilling and a compelling look back over the country's history.
Marilyn Belsham
Jan 10, 2011 Marilyn Belsham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
High on the Hog covers a subject matter that I am not at all familiar with - African American food culture. It was an interesting read, on a subject entirely new to me, and although there are a few passages where some detail seems lacking, Jessica Harris did a remarkable job of tying food and the evolution of culture together. I'm glad I read it.
Sep 16, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for such an incredibly well-written book, outlining the African-American experience through food. I suppose, if I had to quibble, the historical segments became slightly bogged down on a couple of occasions (tenuously linked to food), but I'd still rate the work as highly recommended.
Jul 29, 2012 Kelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently met the author at the University of South Carolina. Her book taught me a lot and has inspired me to play around in the kitchen some more. Her radio show, The Welcome Table, is wonderful. She also helped to construct the website OldWays: Health through Heritage. It has food pyramids based off of a person's cultural background, complete with recipes. Another tremendous resource.
Catherine Woodman
I really loved this book as a history book--tracing the culture of African food back to the Silk Road and the influences African food had on Asia, before turning to the US and the influence of the food of slaves on the US culture. Great ride through time, and especially good if you have read The Warmth of Other Suns, which covers a second wave of African American migration in the US.
Jan 10, 2011 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you good reads for chosing me to read your book. What a good way to learn about food history from Africa to America during Black History Month. The book gives you an intimate look on the diversity of one of the many food cultures in the United States.
Feb 07, 2011 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely written cultural history of African American food and food traditions, including fish fries, rent parties, and the catering industry in Philadephia, which was dominated by African Americans at the turn of the 20th century.
Dorothy Dubel
Mar 25, 2011 Dorothy Dubel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“An intimate dance of cuisine led by the renowned culinary expert, Jessica Harris. The author swirls and twirls her readers inter-winding Black history with the stories of the beginnings of soul food recipes.”

Dorothy Dubel, Author
Escaping Danger
I enjoyed this work, which showed me how little I really know about the history of African Americans specifically, and the USA generally. I found it fascinating to learn about the African, and African American, influences on American cuisine.
Feb 14, 2011 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm loving learning about the roots to Southern cooking, although the journey of styles and flavors through the Middle Passage is heartbreaking. Great insight into Southern cooking, living, and culture.
Just won this through Goodreads Giveaway...

I'm stuggling with this book. Its not really what I expected. More of a textbook rather than a story of the author's journey in discovering the history of Southern cooking.

I'm putting it down for now...but I'm determined to finish it soon.
Jan 08, 2011 shinfu marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This looks like it will be a great book to read.
Jan 10, 2011 Sonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much a history of African-Americans as a history of their food. Very interesting and informative. Includes recipes - some I might try.
Aug 20, 2011 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book!! Well researched, well written, unbiased and informative. I am rarely able to purchase books, but I will this one. It should be assigned as a high school text.
Jul 07, 2012 Sylvia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
terrific, soulful!
Nov 24, 2012 Therese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most perfectly written books I've read. Dr. Harris gives us a thorough and elegantly told biography black culinary tradition from Africa to America!!!!
Jul 08, 2012 Cyndi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Loved the history.
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According to Heritage Radio Network, there's perhaps no greater expert on the food and foodways of the African Diaspora than Doctor Jessica B. Harris. She is the author of twelve critically acclaimed cookbooks documenting the foods and foodways of the African Diaspora including Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa's Gifts to New World Cooking, Sky Juice and Flying Fish Traditional Caribbean Cooking ...more
More about Jessica B. Harris...

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