I’m Jessica Harris and welcome to my website. Some of you are here because you’re old friends either through my books or hearing me speak somewhere or listening to my radio podcasts on Heritage Radio Network. Some of you are new friends and finding me for the first time. I guess then, I’d better begin by telling you a little about me.
I’m not going to tell you my age. If you really need to know, you can find it online. Rather, I’m going to hide behind something my grandmother used to say: “I’m as old as my little finger and a little bit older than my teeth!” I’m a native New Yorker and went to grade school at the United Nations International School where I learned at an early age to respect the cultures of all nations and savor their foods. I always wanted to be a performer, so I went to the High School of Performing Arts and majored in theatre, but unlike those in the movie FAME, I didn’t get a Broadway audition. Instead I went to Bryn Mawr College, spent a year in France with Sarah Lawrence College, and returned to New York City where I’ve been performing as a teacher at Queens College/ CUNY for almost 50 years. [You can read all about this in my next book: My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir being published on May 9th by Scribner’s.]
The great thing about college teaching, other than the students that keep you young and on your toes, is that it often gives you time to engage in other pursuits that you love. I used my time to indulge my love for travel and writing as a journalist, first at Essence Magazine, where I was book review editor and travel editor and at Travel Weekly where I covered Africa and the Caribbean.
Through my journalism and my own personal affinities, I’ve traveled the world: eating, shopping, exploring, and generally enjoying myself. As a result of the travels, I began to notice connections among the foods of the cultures of the African diaspora where many of my travels had taken me. The result was my second cookbook: Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons, Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking. That book took me on a journey that still continues.
That journey is what this website is all about. Here, you’ll find news, updates of new stops along the way, flashback articles from long ago and information on what I’m doing and where I’m going and where we can meet in person when I’m in your area. I hope you’ll be back periodically to see what’s up…Don’t forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter in the space provided.