When it comes to African foodways, and the vast diaspora from which those foods come, there are few people with as much expertise as food historian Dr. Jessica B. Harris. Luckily for viewers everywhere, Harris — who holds more awards and accomplishments than one can fit into a single sentence — is bringing her trove of knowledge to a new Netflix original show called High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, that will debut on May 26.
The docu-series, adapted from one of Harris’ many books, this one of the same name, is “part culinary show, part travelogue,” according to a press release. The show will be hosted by Stephen Satterfield, the founder of Whetstone, a magazine and media company sharing stories of food and its culture across the globe. Throughout the four-episode series, Satterfield “embarks on a vibrant and powerful culinary journey alongside chefs, historians, and activists that celebrate the courage, artistry, and resourcefulness of the African American people,” according to the release.
Too often, food and travel shows fall back on the tired trope of Food As Unifier, a feel good concept, sure, but one that tends to erase and glaze over issues of racism, class disparity, and labor, that are so often core to who eats what, and why. This show, it seems, is committed to telling the full and unadulterated story of “America’s deep-rooted history of slavery, and the impact on American food as we know it today.”
High on the Hog will offer a history lesson from one of this country’s finest historians, and one of its most respected food journalists, and promises to untangle and unpack these topics over beautiful West African stews, soul food, barbecue, and fine dining meals. The show, directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, is, the press release says, “a story of Black America’s resilience, enduring creativity, and vital contribution to America’s kitchen.” A month feels like a long time to wait for a Netflix show, but if their past work is any indication, Harris and Satterfield are sure to make the wait worthwhile.