Root & Ramen - Ramen ready for the watermelon broth (306054)
Credit: Kysha Harris photo

I hope everyone took a moment during our newest federal holiday, Juneteenth, to take a beat and reflect on what the holiday represents. Having written about it for my work at The Spruce Eats, participated in a virtual cookout for Simply Recipes and been interviewed by Serious Eats about the holiday, I feel even closer to the magnitude of the moment of June 19, 1865.

My sister-friend, Chef Rasheed Purdie, did not let Juneteenth pass without a celebration that would make our ancestors beyond proud. And just like on that day, she did it through food.

It began in the promotion of her latest ramen to-go box from her growing company, Ramen by Rā, with curated photos of early Juneteenth…Freedom Day…Emancipation Day…Jubilee Day…in Texas. Beautiful sepia pictures of now free Americans as they emerge from a history of inhumane treatment. In the same vain, she styled a photo of herself in period clothing, confidently and defiantly bracing herself on a watermelon, a watermelon that would be transformed into a fusion food experience for the ages.

You might remember my review of Chef Rasheeda’s Cherry Blossom ramen box with the miso deviled eggs, ramen, and mochi. I was blown away by it but it has nothing on her Roots & Ramen box in honor of Juneteenth. Let’s begin…

First course was a black-eyed pea and edamame salad. Tossed in a soy balsamic vinaigrette and topped with blistered cherry tomatoes, marinated egg yolk and 7-spice crunch, it was divine. The perfect start to a Southern-Asian food experience.

For the main course, ramen, of course, but elevated and unique. As per the directions I laid the spinach noodles in the bowl and topped with watermelon rind slaw, watermelon poke, and watercress. I then bathed all of that in chilled watermelon broth that was all the notes of sweet and umami in one and finished with fried garlic. It was a transformative moment I will not soon forget.

And just like that watermelon broth, dessert and the drink highlight the color red to honor the lives lost during those 2.5 years of illegal bondage and beyond. They came in the form of a red velvet cake roll filled with sweet buttercream and strawberry sage soda, to enjoy on its own or mixed with a libation of choice.

Brava chef, BRAVA! Our ancestors are proud of you. Thank you for expressing yourself in the unique way you do.

We are not free until we are ALL free.

Happy eating and thanks for reading.

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 18 years. She is the new Food Editor at Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPnyc, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc.

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