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In the 1600s, African slaves were brought to the United States, along with their food and styles of cooking. They brought okra, sesame seeds, peanuts, black-eyed peas, and rice. Using these foods, they introduced new recipes to the existing American dishes.
The slaves were also given only a small portion of food each week, so they learned to make dishes with the foods they had, such as pork, cornmeal, and vegetables. Several of these dishes such as cornbread and grits, which are dried and boiled grains from corn, are still made as of the twenty-first century. African Americans also continue to use molasses as a sweetener in their dishes and in drinks, such as iced tea.
Beginning in the 1960s, interest in African American culture and heritage has grown. Many African Americans celebrate the cultural holiday Kwanzaa, don colorful dress reflecting their African heritage, and promote a unique ethnic style of cooking, sometimes called "soul food." During the 1960s and 1970s African American business people established "soul food" restaurants all over the country, where Americans of all ethnic origins could enjoy spicy barbecued meats and poultry, tasty greens, cornbread, and other home-style dishes.
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