MY PEN IS MIGHTY

Top 10 Blackest Food Scenes on the Big Screen

In Black cinema, food sometimes serves as a metaphor for triumphs, empowerment and self-awareness.

Audarshia Townsend
ZORA
Published in
7 min readFeb 24, 2022

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A scene from Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Netflix.

In Black cinema, food sometimes is a fascinating supporting character. For example, it’s used to connect generations through traditional dishes and historic ingredients like okra and black eyed peas. It’s also used as a self-care mechanism when there’s trauma such as the loss of a loved one. It can also be used to take back one’s power in the most unexpected ways, particularly when racial discrimination is involved.

Recently, I wrote a similar piece focusing on some of the Blackest food moments ever televised. That was a fun, humorous take featuring classic and modern shows. This time around, I’m highlighting the top 10 films where food serves as a metaphor for triumphs, empowerment and self-awareness.

10. The Princess and the Frog (2009)

You tell a Black woman she cannot do something enough times, and she will make sure she proves you wrong. This animated production has talented actress/singer Anika Noni Rose as Tiana, a young woman who sets sights on opening her own restaurant in 1920s New Orleans. She has as many detractors as fans of her prized gumbo and beignets, yet she is not deterred. Though there’s a handsome prince in the mix, this is not your ordinary fairy tale. In the end, Tiana does get the prince and the restaurant, which also serves up her signature beignets. Those beignets have served Tiana well throughout her life, from getting her the funding she needed to open the restaurant to serving as a calling card for her to meet Prince Naveen.

9. The Cookout (2004)

A $30 million NBA rookie contract. Multimillion dollar endorsements. A gold-digging girlfriend. And a shrewd mother who can spot a phony in an instant. Lady Em (Jenifer Lewis) is not going to allow her son, Todd (Quran Pender), to be taken by the likes of Brittany (Meagan Good), who is already spending his millions in her head. While Brittany is Black, she’s not down with the culture or soul food. So, during “the cookout,” when Lady Em’s colorful family shows up to celebrate her son’s success, she sends Brittany on a wild goose chase to…

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Audarshia Townsend
ZORA
Writer for

Audarshia Townsend is a Chicago-based journalist who writes about how food & beverages impact the culture and industry. Email: Audarshia@townsendmediamagic.com