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Finger Lickin' Good

Fried chicken is permanent fixture on my comfort food roster. Pulling all-nighters in college was always a perfect excuse for a late-night run to indulge in some KFC, Popeye's, Wendy's—whichever was the most convenient to get to at my hungriest. Although those meals were satisfying, I do hold a little regret in not having some homemade fried chicken in all those years. Well, before the much-too-short Black History Month came to a close, we managed to squeeze in one more Cooking with atF featuring Mama T, making a soul food classic: fried chicken! It's not something I had realised I so wanted to try but once Mama T's event was announced, I was practically salivating all week in anticipation.

It was quite the family affair. For a year where we've kept our physical distance from one another due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mama T's kitchen was surely packed to the brim with numerous generations of her family, loved ones, and the many other attendees sprinkled across the globe. Nothing quite like being brought together in that way to reminds us how important communing can be for the soul (and the stomach!)

From the moments spent prepped the chicken with seasoning to the pieces being dropped in the oil to fry, it felt like a simple process that yielded such tantalizing results! In the video below, Mama T takes us through the cooking process:

If anything, the majority of the time was a waiting time as the chicken sizzled away in our fryers. Because of this, we were able to dig deeper into conversations that are cropping up far more these days on the unhealthiness of soul food dishes. Here's just one example:

Much has been said about growing rates of obesity in African American communities and much has been attributed to traditional eating habits that have been carried through generations. Interestingly, the rates of obesity in African American communities are often juxtaposed against differing trends seen in African countries. The thing is, we can make our assumptions of what causes this difference. The immense sugar consumption in the US may be the answer, or even the greater reliance on processed foods. All this may have been true 20 years ago, or may still be true to this day but it did strike me how different of a view I had as a 23-year-old who has spent the majority of my life living in African countries. Having a Rolodex of fast food restaurants to pick from on any given take-out night was far from novel in my upbringing. Slowly but surely, many health challenges we previously ascribed to the West are cropping up in our communities in Africa partly due to the introduction of these non-traditional food options.

Catch more on our critical conversation here:

Health disparities in the African American community have been on full display this past year during the pandemic. With the onset of COVID-19, the disease itself and the subsequent response from policymakers magnifies the inherent systemic and structural disparities African American communities face. Even with the rapid development of vaccines, African American communities still fall behind in the administration process. For one, there is a distrust of the healthcare system due to the mistreatment of Black people in medical experiments; most notably, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

Coupled with the reality that we have alarming rates of pre-existing illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease, and limited access to vital vaccine-related information in our communities, the COVID-19 pandemic is a compounded situation for African American communities across the US.

To find more information about vaccine opportunities in Maryland, click here.


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