This week Louisiana recognized Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, as a legal state holiday. The third Saturday in June will now be celebrated as Juneteenth Day under a bill passed without any nay votes and signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
In recognition of this occasion, Mitch’s Flowers, an Uptown New Orleans Institution since 1986, will donate a portion of all sales from the store’s inventory of a pottery collection depicting the artwork of Clementine Hunter to a charity benefiting at-need Black youths in New Orleans. This special opportunity will be offered through the end of June. Hunter, born in 1887 was a self-taught Black folk artist from the Cane River region of Louisiana, who lived and worked on Melrose Plantation. She started working as a farm laborer when young, and never learned to read or write. In her fifties, she began to sell her paintings, which soon gained local and national attention for their complexity in depicting Black Southern life in the early twentieth century. Initially she sold her first paintings for as little as 25 cents. But by the end of her life, her work was being exhibited in museums and sold by dealers for thousands of dollars. Clementine Hunter produced an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 paintings in her lifetime and was granted an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Northwestern State University of Louisiana in 1986, and she is the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at the present-day New Orleans Museum of Art.
In addition, on Friday from noon – 4 p. m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon, a representative from Citronola will be on hand at Mitch’s offering complimentary samples of hibiscus tea. The consumption of “red drink” at Juneteenth celebrations goes back to West Africa, the cradle of slavery. There, red drinks often mark a special occasion. Enslaved West Africans brought over the same customary social beverage with them to the American and Caribbean South. Hibiscus tea is one such drink. Hibiscus is native to West Africa, and its flower petals are used to make a tea. Over time, hibiscus tea spread throughout the Caribbean and Latin America with enslaved and their descendants.
New Orleans entrepreneur Claudia Benevento, a native of Guatemala and resident of Uptown New Orleans, grew up drinking sweetened hibiscus tea. She created Citronola as a more health-conscious variety of the drink she grew up on, using pineapple peel or clove in her drinks to lend a naturally sweet flavor with no added sugar or sweeteners. Citronola beverages are unsweetened and caffeine free with 100% natural ingredients.
This weekend is also one to honor Dad. Remember the Lamb Sliders with Creole Tomato Chutney I mentioned last week? I was in The Cookbook Studio with Kelly Massicot, the myneworleans.com web guru, and we shot this demonstration of the dish for IGTV to very enthusiastic reviews. I think many dads around New Orleans will be enjoying some variation of this fantastic dish. Check it out.
Have a great weekend everyone. Ya’ll play nice.