Interview: Nia Raquelle Smith
When we think about baking we often think about the end product - the beautifully decorated cake, the treat at the end of a meal or to get you through the afternoon. We don't often think about the ingredients as being direct from the soil, the agriculture of flour, the farm-ness of the eggs and butter. And, we don't often think of the journey, the history, the sense of place and the cultural shaping of the cake - or pastry - as we fixate on the celebratory nature of the dish.
It was these thoughts that came to mind when I read Nia Raquelle's twitter thread on Red Velvet cake. I love Red Velvet cake and refuse to believe that is is just red coloured chocolate cake (although the versions I have eaten probably have been) and so this thread captivated me.
It was the sense of place and ideas of rootedness that intrigued me too, ideas that I had not investigated when it came to sweet things - where are these dishes rooted, and how have they changed as they travel?
So I was really excited to have Nia Raquelle take the time to talk to me about all these things, and further explain the history of Red Velvet cake.
Nia Raquelle is a food scholar who looks at pop culture, policy, gender and race, follow her @EatWithNia