It’s not lost on me that ever since 2014, when warm orange became one of my top favorite colors, I began to notice it everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I see it, nature, clothing, culture corporations, fashion, logos, it always makes me feel good. And food of course is no exception.
One of my favorite things to do is get a good sized Butternut squash from the supermarket, peel it’s pale skin and cut it into thick cubes by hand. I enjoy this process because I love to see the deep orange color inside reveal itself. I feel similarly about cutting into avocados, since green was my first favorite color as a young person and I can spot a shade of avocado green anywhere. I’ve been on a Butternut squash craze since the beginning of last year. It’s just such a good winter food, so versatile and filling and comforting. And it’s been scientifically proven that the color of foods affects our well being as well as your cells. So when I cut into butternut squash, I’m aware that the color starts to affect my senses before my taste buds.
Outside of baking and roasting, I haven’t been super creative with butternut squash but this winter I plan on pushing myself into more challenging recipes. Last night I roasted cubes of butternut squash to go along with a Bulgar wheat salad I made from the grain that had soaked overnight. The last time my mom visited us, she left a large bag of Bulgar in the cabinet. She used to prepare this a lot for us a lot for us and it’s also very easy to make. I achieved a taste practically identical to the recipe my mom used and I was really pleased about that. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to try it myself. It’s so simple to make and right now, in terms of improving my intake of real food, simple is what I’m going for.
The other great thing about Butternut squash is how long it keeps. We’re unfortunately notorious for letting vegetables we forgot we had rot in the fridge, particular the green leafy ones (Sad face). But a container of cubed butternut squash will last for days in the fridge. I’ve had squash sit for weeks on the living room table and it’s always perfectly preserved when I decided to cut into it. Winter squash has to be tough on the outside to protect it’s softer center for weeks at a time. Squash is kind of like winter itself. Although it feels and appears barren and unyielding from the outside, all the good stuff is still around, it’s just turned inward, being protected, energizing and preparing…
I hope you’re feeding own inner and outer warmth during these cold days. We’re all going to need it.
So I don’t know if you remember how last year I was raving about this head wrap company that I found at fanmdjanm.com. I was especially jazzed to see that they had these cool, funky video tutorials on different ways to wrap the fabric on their site. That had me really excited. It made me feel like this was something I might actually be able to do. My bff, Vanessa and I used to wear African fabrics on our heads in High School but I never really learned how to do anything fancy and I never really wrapped my whole head.
The one other time I can remember rocking a head wrap was in my mid- 20s. One day when I just got it into my head that it would be cool to wrap my head in a white fabric that I had to go this poetry reading my white ex-boyfriend invited me to. I had my hair out natural then after having cut my second set of locs and I thought I looked really cute. Well we were sitting at a bar that night and he looked at me smiling a smile that I had come to know as a snarky kind of “what’s this?” smile and then he called me a Nubian Princess but not in the way that brothas in Harlem on 125th Street do. I think he meant it kind of as a joke because he couldn’t take it seriously. He wasn’t familiar with this part of me. I was annoyed and offended and generally put out for the rest of the evening and never wore a head wrap in public again.
Well I finally ordered my head wrap fabric from Fanm Djanm (which means strong woman in Haitian Creole) last week and I can’t wait to see it. That’s it just above. It’s called “Ill Thrill” and I like it because it feels like the pattern than can transition easily from a formal or work (because I do intend to rock it at work) as well as a recreational setting and can be paired with a range of different outfits. I just love the shade of orange which has been a color that started rocking my visual world last year.
Orange started speaking to me loudly saying, “HEY!!!! Come and play with me! Everything is cool! I’m bold and can’t be ignored but I’m also very friendly and happy and I want you to come take a closer look. I want to sooth you and excite you at the same time.” It’s hard for me to look at orange and feel anything but a kind of blind joy for no reason. It also emanates a glowing, loving warmth. Few colors do all of those things to me at once. It was one Fall Season a few years ago while I was taking pictures outdoors that the color orange started to emerge for me with a deep significance I had never noticed before. I couldn’t believe I had been alive for so long without ever appreciating the golds, yellows and bronzes of sunsets and Fall foliage. Now, I can’t pass these colors in nature without being driven to distraction.
Color is wonderful and traditionally, many African fabrics have been full of color and ornate patterns but I haven’t always felt comfortable appropriating the looks I see worn by African hair braiders up and down Harlem standing at street corners in beautiful dresses that they wear all the time. But that’s just Western thinking getting in the way of what I feel drawn to and what I’m entitled to connect with by way of my ancestral roots.