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Food & Drink

Bryant Terry’s Lecture at UNT Conjures Visions of Thanksgiving Cooking

The Oakland-based chef, cookbook author, and food justice activist held court at the University Union Ballroom in Denton, where he shared stories and a recipe.
By |
Celeste Noche
“My maternal grandmother, Margie, kept a cupboard in her kitchen that was about seven-feet tall and a foot deep. Each shelf crowded with glass jars full of preserves: pickled pears, peaches, carrots, green beans, figs, blackberry jam, sauerkraut, and her not-to-be-forgotten chow chow,” Bryant Terry told a room of students, alumni, and public attendees inside a University of North Texas lecture hall on Tuesday evening.

“Listen,” Terry continued, “my grandmother could work magic in the kitchen. You knew she was cooking whenever you entered her house, even if you didn’t smell it, because you could hear singing.”

Terry, an award-winning chef, cookbook author, and food justice activist was in town for UNT’s President’s Lecture Series. He held those of us in the University Union Ballroom rapt for some 90 minutes. (You can watch his talk here.) He spoke about his work connecting youth to more plant-based eating and growing vegetables. He also didn’t gloss over the systems in place that allow for such a disconnect to happen in the first place.

His latest book, Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, debuted in October. D’s own Eve Hill-Agnus is a fan of Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom.

But I’m still drawn to the picture Terry painted of his grandmother in the kitchen—cooking, singing, being. As we inch toward Thanksgiving, I’m reminded that this is a shared experience for many of us this time of year.

Maybe grandfathers or dads hold court in the kitchen, or perhaps mothers and aunties squeeze side by side at the counter, making their signature dishes. Our arts and culture editor Taylor Crumpton has told me that she is her family’s mac and cheese maven. Though her cornbread, in my opinion, should be on the Thanksgiving table, too. (It’s so moist! It’s so everything!)

Me? I like to experiment on Thanksgiving. Traditions? Nah. Give me six hours and recipes I’ve never attempted before. This is truly living on the edge. Last year, I secured a standing rib roast from Deep Cuts Butcher Shop. It came out perfectly, I’ll have you know. This year, I’m eyeing (praying, stalking) porchetta at Georgie’s Butcher Shop.

If you’re likewise on the hunt for a tabletop centerpiece dish, I did up a big guide that includes dine in, takeaway options, and a list of our favorite local butchers and meat shops.

Whatever your celebratory inclinations, big or small, family- or chosen family-filled, have a lovely Thanksgiving. (Because OMFG it’s coming up really fast and my own personal panic alarm is blaring!)

A version of this story first appeared in the November 17 edition of the weekly SideDish newsletterSign up here so you don’t miss the latest food and drink news and stories.

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