Black History: Masada Cafe - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/27/09

Black History: Masada Cafe

Jamal Toure, Jamal Toure,

By Dawn Baker - bioemail

Savannah, GA (WTOC)- Throughout Black History Month, we've been learning about different landmarks in the Low Country and Coastal Empire that we pass every day that have a significant place in history. Today we're talking about foods as we take a tour of The Masada Café at the United House of Prayer on Savannah's Bay Street.

When we eat, we generally choose foods we like, but did you ever stop to think about how those dishes were created? What cultures influenced them? At the Masada Café, you have your choice of a wide variety of dishes that have been around for centuries with deep African roots.

Our tour guide Jamal Toure' explains what can be found on the buffet line. "We call it Savannah Red Rice, if you go to West Africa, you call it Joloff Rice. That is a dish that was made by our ancestors in Africa that comes across the water.

Even in regards to rice it's an African tradition we grew rice and ate rice. Baked chicken is known as baked guinea in West Africa. Some say even the frying foods comes from Africa. They were frying foods in Africa and guess what?

They don't lose those skills when they come here. Some will say it is tied to Scottish Highlanders, but there is also an African influence. Gullah geechee people and African people ate seafood because that was also a part of what we did in Africa. African people would eat red beans and rice and that meant good fortune was going to come to us."

It is amazing that after so many centuries these recipes have survived and especially when we talk about the beliefs that accompany them. I know no one in my family begins the new year without Hop and John. it is a tradition that most southerners practice. Now you know its history and a lot of other things around here.

The Masada Cafe' is located in the United House of Prayer at 2301 West Bay Street.  They are open weekdays from Noon to 5 P.M.

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