By Kern Carter, Writer and Co-Chair of the Inclusion and Diversity Council, RBC Ventures
This is the first of a four-part series. Read our second article and get PK’s light soup recipe here: From Ghana with love: How food brings people to the table.
Every February, during Black History Month, Canadians honour the legacy of Black Canadians and communities, and celebrate their contributions to the development of our country. It’s an opportunity for Canadians and newcomers alike to learn about Black Canadians’ experiences in our society, and the vital role the Black community has played throughout our shared history. We asked writer/author Kern Carter to share his thoughts on Black History Month along with his mom’s macaroni pie recipe. Enjoy!
Many newcomers hearing about Black History Month for the first time may be confused about why there needs to be a month dedicated specifically to Black history. If I’m being totally honest, as a Black man myself, I struggle with the significance of this month: in particular, the idea that Black History Month assumes Black contributions as separate from all other history in this country and on this continent. It isn’t, and that’s not the intention of this month.
What makes me appreciate the month’s celebrations is knowing how long people of colour have been oppressed and excluded from the history books. Our voices, our significance, the work we’ve done in the face of the suffering we’ve had to endure—it’s a testament to our strength that we’ve contributed so much despite all of this. It’s for this reason Black History Month is important. Centuries of silencing needs to be reframed, and dedicating a month to Black history is one way of reshaping the conversation to recognize our accomplishments.
That’s a lot of responsibility for just one month. Where do you even start, right? For me, what I hope we can do this month is focus on what makes Black culture beautiful. There’s so much diversity in who we are. I was born in Trinidad and moved to Canada as a young child. My experience is much different compared to someone who immigrated from Ghana or who was born in the U.S. The way we speak, the clothes we wear, and the food we eat are all specific to our upbringing.
If you want to talk about what represents a culture, you can practically start and end with what they eat. Food is the ultimate ice breaker. Ingredients are connected to specific regions, and in turn those regions often have a history of food that can be connected to other parts of the world. In Trinidad, for example, we eat a lot of curries which can be linked back to India, and from there connected to England. That’s centuries of history in a single dish.
Nothing brings people together like a table full of plates with steaming hot dishes that tickle your nostrils even before you take your first bite. I can close my eyes and smell my mom’s homemade bread, a scent that glided through our apartment on Saturday mornings. I also remember our Sunday dinners, which were often legendary Trini dishes like roti with curry chicken and macaroni pie.
What better way to celebrate Black History Month than by showcasing the wonderful dishes from different parts of the world? This month, we’ll be inviting a few of our friends to share their favourite dishes and recipes that represent their Black upbringing and history. I’ll start things off by sharing one of my favourite recipes from Trinidad. I’m telling you right now that you’ll need a plate and a napkin. It’s going to be delicious!
Kern’s Mom’s Macaroni Pie Recipe
Before I give you my mom’s recipe, there’s something you should know about Caribbean parents: they do not measure anything. So while I can provide you the ingredients and instructions, you’ll have to figure out the measurements on your own. Apologies in advance :)
Check back soon for more upcoming articles sharing rich and fragrant recipes from Black newcomers from around the world.