Organizers behind the lauded Taste the Diaspora movement in Detroit are returning this Black History Month with the revival of the group’s popular shoebox lunches that celebrate the many often overlooked contributions of African Americans to the nation’s culinary landscape.
Last year, the group — founded by Ederique Goudia, Raphael Wright (founder of the forthcoming Neighborhood Market in the city’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood), and Jermond Booze — sold out of 400 healthy lunches (named in recognition of the grab-and-go meals prepared by traveling Black families during the Jim Crow-era) within three days. The organizers also gave away 100 boxes to Detroiters who were experiencing food insecurity.
This year’s lunchbox theme is Black health and wellness (based on this year’s Black History Month theme identified by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). Boxes will feature items that encourage healing, such as an immunity booster called Electric Koolaid created by Asa Lockett, who co-authored Make the Hood Healthy Again alongside Wright. Each week, the lunches will feature a roster of rotating Black chefs, including from Baobab Fare, Fried Chicken & Caviar, Flavors of Jamaica, Experience Relish, Mag Creates, Meal Prep by Alisha K, Chef Jermond Booze, Chef Buddah (Vegan Gumbo Guy), and Chef Amber Beckem. Tickets for the lunches can now be purchased online for $35 a piece. Local delivery is available otherwise in-person pickups in person, take place every Friday and Saturday at Baobab Fare at 6568 Woodward Ave.
“We are excited to build on what we’ve learned and harness the incredible energy this initiative created so that we can make an even greater impact on our community in 2022 and beyond,” said Wright in a news release.
In addition to selling shoebox lunches, organizers have teamed up with City Institute to launch a citywide scavenger hunt aimed at sending residents to 35 Black-owned businesses. Participants can download a clue sheet starting February 11 or pick one up at Baobab Fare and are eligible for prizes.
On On Feb. 17, the Urban Consulate will host a virtual panel discussion about food, land, history healing and repair with Goudia, along with Baobab Fare co-owner Hamissi Mamba, Kwaku Osei-Bonsu (co-founder of East Eats Detroit and Detroit Black Restaurant Week) and Jo Banner of The Descendants Project based in Wallace, Louisiana.
On top of this month’s festivities, Goudia is taking over the kitchen this Thursday and Friday at Frame in Hazel Park for a sold out five-course Cajun Criole dinner party, where she will debut her Paradise Valley Salad, yet another one of her collaborations, this time with Planted Detroit. In addition to her work with Taste the Diaspora, Goudia serves as the lead chef for Make Food Not Waste, a Detroit-based nonprofit that utilizes food that would otherwise go to waste to prepare meals for households experiencing food insecurity.
The idea for Taste the Diaspora was actually born out of her work with Make Food Not Waste, when during the 2020 holiday season, she and other organizers, including Wright and Booze, distributed more than 11,000 meals between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The project has since gone on to use its platform to support mutual aid efforts, including last summer, when Hurricane Ida ravaged Goudia’s hometown of Wallace, Louisiana, the Taste the Diaspora crew organized a series of popup dining events in Detroit, raising $8,500, and then traveled there to aid in relief efforts.