Taste the Diaspora Detroit teams up with local chefs for healthy lunches during Black History Month

click to enlarge Taste the Diaspora Detroit founders Raphael Wright, Jermond Booze, and Ederique Goudia. - Valaurian Carter, Val Waller Photography
Valaurian Carter, Val Waller Photography
Taste the Diaspora Detroit founders Raphael Wright, Jermond Booze, and Ederique Goudia.

Sharing food is one of the best ways to honor and experience culture. So, for Black History Month, Taste the Diaspora Detroit will be selling healthy “shoebox lunches” to celebrate Black contributions to the culinary world. A different menu for each week of February will be prepared by Black chefs and restaurant owners around Detroit.

The lunches, which cost $35 each, will feature a salad, soup, entree, and a drink called “Electric Kool-Aid.” This is probably the only instance where you actually do actually want to drink the Kool-Aid, because this version contains immunity-boosting ingredients like sea moss, hibiscus, and soursop. Participating businesses that will make the dishes each week include Detroit favorites like Baobab Fare, Fried Chicken & Caviar, Flavors of Jamaica, Experience Relish, and more.

Even the name, “shoebox lunch,” offers a lesson in Black history. Shoebox lunches were something of a necessity for Black travelers during Jim Crow. Instead of risking an unfriendly encounter at unwelcoming restaurants on their travels, they would pack their lunches in a shoebox or whatever other vessel they had around the house.

Taste the Diaspora Detroit was founded last year by three Black entrepreneurs in the Detroit food scene — Chef Ederique Goudia, Chef Jermond Booze, and Neighborhood Grocery proprietor Raphael Wright. In their short time together, the trio has helped to support Black-owned restaurants through the COVID-19 pandemic, and fight food insecurity in Detroit’s underserved neighborhoods. They even raised more than $8,000 in relief funds for those affected by Hurricane Ida in Wallace, Louisiana.

“Black people have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and we already suffer from negative health outcomes more than other groups,” Booze said in a press release. “So much of that can be traced to diet. I can’t think of a better way of supporting the health and wellness of our people than by providing nourishing food while lifting up the Black-owned businesses that supply and create it.”

Unfortunately, he’s right. Black Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods that lack easy access to nutritious food. Detroit is a prime example, with many areas being considered “food deserts” because they have more liquor stores than places to buy fruits and vegetables.

“Health and wellness” is the theme for Black History Month this year, which embodies everything the people behind Taste the Diaspora stand for. Wright co-authored a book with fellow Detroiter Asa Lockett called Make the Hood Healthy Again, which aims to usher out some of the unhealthy habits and mindsets of urban America. Wright’s current project, Neighborhood Grocery, is a forthcoming small-format grocery store in Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood that aims to bring a supply of locally-grown produce back into the neighborhood.

In addition to the lunches, Taste the Diaspora Detroit will host a panel discussion about food, history, and land with Jo Banner of The Descendants Project, Baobab Fare proprietor Mamba Hamissi, East Eats Detroit and Detroit Black Restaurant Week co-founder Kwaku Osei Bonsu, and Goudia of Taste the Diaspora Detroit. It will take place on Feb. 17 online via Zoom. Goudia will be also be hosting a cajun feast at Hazel Park’s Frame to celebrate her Creole heritage on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4. More information can be found on Taste the Diaspora Detroit's website.

Tickets for the shoebox lunches went on sale Monday and can be purchased online for local delivery or pickup beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4 at Baobab Fare. This is the group's second year offering the Black History Month lunches and they sold out last year, so be quick if you want to get in while the gettin’s good.

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About The Author

Randiah Camille Green

After living in Japan and traveling across Asia, Randiah Camille Green realized Detroit will always be home. And when she says Detroit, she's talking about the hood, not the suburbs. She has bylines in Planet Detroit News , Bridge Detroit , BLAC magazine, and Model D . Her favorite pastimes are meditating...
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