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June 2022

A Taste of Juneteenth Tradition

Juneteenth is a national holiday celebrated with outdoor gatherings, parades, and, of course, delicious food. We asked Krysten and Marrekus Wilkes, the husband and wife team behind the food blog Cooks with Soul, to share a menu inspired by their cultural experiences and favorite memories of this important day.
June 2022

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the last slaves were freed in Texas – two and a half years after President Lincoln outlawed slavery. Though it didn’t become a federal holiday until 2021, Juneteenth celebrations have a long history in the United States. For Krysten Wilkes growing up, it was an annual event that signified the start of summer and a chance to celebrate with her community during a weekend-long festival with music, dancing, and food. 

These four southern soul food recipes developed by Cooks with Soul capture a taste of Juneteenth tradition for the Wilkes family that’s easy to recreate with your family.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

This 10-minute, protein-packed side with celery and ripe summer tomatoes tastes even better the longer it sits. The main ingredient, black-eyed peas, are often included in Juneteenth menus because of their significance as a food native to Africa brought to the U.S. during the slave trade. 

Grilled Pork Loin

This delicious pork loin is a flavorful riff on the barbecue dishes Krysten Wilkes remembers eating on Juneteenth as a child. The easy marinade made with the kick of Creole mustard works to both flavor the meat and create a seared crust that keeps the pork ultra-juicy. 

Hibiscus Lemonade Red Drink

This lemonade with hibiscus tea and two kinds of fresh berries is more than just a cooling refresher. Red colored drinks, symbols of the blood shed during slavery, are a staple of Juneteenth celebrations. 

Red Velvet Pound Cake

Along with red drinks, red colored foods also represent the violence and lives lost during the slave trade. This Cooks with Soul-ful version of brightly hued red velvet cake is made with cream cheese and sour cream for an ultra-moist crumb.

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