The Enslaved Chefs Who Invented Southern Hospitality

Black Cooks Created the Feasts that Gave the South Its Reputation for Gracious Living 

“We need to forget about this so we can heal,” said an elderly white woman, as she left my lecture on the history of enslaved cooks and their influence on American cuisine.  Something I said, or perhaps everything I said, upset her.

My presentation covered 300 years of American history that started with the forced enslavement of millions of Africans, and which still echoes in our culture today, from the myth of the “happy servant” (think Aunt Jemima on the syrup bottle) to the broader marketing of black servitude (as in …

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How Hawai‘i Taught the World to Love Raw Seafood

Whether Served with a Beer in Honolulu, or Goji Berries in Dusseldorf, Poke is One of the Islands' Global Exports

Where did all this poke come from?

You may have asked yourself that as poke—the chopped raw fish salad —begins to appear everywhere, from Paris to Pennsylvania. The short answer …

How Hawai‘i Forces Us to Redefine the Meaning of ‘Native’

An Environmental Historian Argues That Being Indigenous Is More Alchemy Than Fact

I was born in the Territory of Hawai‘i, three weeks before statehood. As a kid I played in its dirt, ran around in the rain (my hometown of Hilo is …

How Moving to England Cured My ‘American Verbal Inferiority Complex’

The Beauty of Rule-Based American English Is That It's More Democratic Than the Brits' Version

I had lived in England for three years when Eats, Shoots and Leaves struck in 2003. English writer Lynne Truss’ “zero tolerance approach to pronunciation” became a British publishing phenomenon—helped …

How National Boundaries Distort Our Understanding of the World

Today's Most Pressing Global Issues Can't Be Addressed Through the Prism of Borders

Every four years, in summer and in winter, the Olympics open with a choreographed ceremony dominated by national delegations wearing national uniforms parading behind their respective national flags. Each event …