There's nothing like a perfectly seasoned pot of collard greens. The slow-cooking process is ritual-like, and we've passed down coveted recipes like culinary heirlooms for generations. There are a few reasons why much of our love for greens runs so deep.
Although Eurasian originated, European colonizers introduced collard greens to the African continent, and our greens-loving ancestors prepared them during enslavement. According to food historian Micheal Twitty, how we prepare the superfood, seasoned with meat and peppers and in soups and stews, is unique to our people and something we've been doing since the 17th century.
Besides being a delicious part of culinary culture, collard greens have always gone beyond the fork for us. Back in the day, our women suffering from migraines wrapped their heads in the leafy green to soothe aches.
During enslavement, we made do with the toughest part of collard greens, the steams, tapping into ancestral knowledge to turn a simple vegetable into a delicacy. Today, they remain a staple, and many believe they bring prosperity, specifically when eaten on New Year's Eve.
Our food has always been full of creativity and innovation and imbued with stories. Knowing this delicious part of our history can help us reject negative stereotypes about Black food and embrace it as the beautiful culinary heirloom it has always been.