One of the elements of African American culture that people in the antebellum time struggled to understand was how can these people who are so oppressed feel such joy? How can they smile in the middle of hell? And isn’t that the story of the blues? Every element of Black culture [contains] that tension between pain and joy, between control and liberation. And you can use the food to liberate yourself, to figure out your identity. When I picked cotton for 16 hours, the only thing I had to eat was a hoe cake and some water. You don’t know shit about Southern cuisine or slavery until you’ve actually spent 16 hours in the fields sweating, running away from poisonous snakes, and getting your hands cut up by cotton. Then you find out what a hoe cake really meant.