Cuisines of the Black Diaspora

Food & Drink

September 9, 2023

Nanny Evon could throw down chicken and dumplings for her 21 siblings and cousins like it was nothing. 

“She cooked for all of them,” says Rob Carter. “She doesn’t know how to cook for a small group of people.”

That’s just one thing Carter got from his grandmother. I saw it myself earlier this summer when the chef pushed out hundreds of orders of Nigerian suya, jollof rice, and fried plantains and black-eyed pea fritters on one of the busiest, most hectic nights of the year on the patio at Ludlow Liquors.   

Carter was helping out, expediting Dozzy Ibekwe’s menu, but this September 11, it’s all his own when Diaspora plays Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up.

Back mid-pandemic, after four years on the line at Western Springs’ great Vie, Carter was contemplating an offer to jump up to a sous chef position. And why wouldn’t he? Paul Virant’s beloved temple of preservation and seasonality had a foundational impact on Carter’s own food.

But so did Nanny Evon. Carter instead cut loose and founded Diaspora,  dedicated to exploring the common ground among all the cuisines of the Black Diaspora.  

“I’d been noticing the same ingredients, the same cooking techniques, similar dishes, all the way across the board,” he says. “I figured it’d be cool to serve all of it—and even in some cases, try to make a fusion out of it.”

Carter’s been synthesizing threads of the Black culinary experience ever since, creating menus inspired by Caribbean, African, and corner store food—and even imagining and executing a West African taqueria.

This Monday, he’s bringing a super-seasonal menu that pulls on all these threads, with a bit of acidic preservational balance. There’s a Nashville hot chicken thigh with a hot honey drizzle, mounted on a cheddar cornmeal waffle with sweet corn succotash; Cajun crab salad on johnnycakes; and melon with smoked feta, Publican country ham, pickled watermelon rind, and chorizo vinaigrette. He’s got creamy potato salad too, and banana pudding for dessert, but I’m most excited by the fried green tomato sandwich on French bread that doubles down on the nightshade with a green tomato chow chow, along with pimiento cheese and collard greens. “Collard greens are a super underrated sandwich topping,” says Carter.

He’s teamed up with events curation collective @nobottleservice_, and bringing in Patricia of Chicago to DJ. Bar opens at 5 PM. Walk-in orders from 6 PM until sellout, this Monday, September 11, at 2959 N. California.

And this is just the beginning; Carter’s kicking off a brand-new Monday Night Foodball schedule, which you can find below!

Diaspora weaves together the threads of the Black culinary experience at the next Monday Night Foodball
Check out former Vie cook Rob Carter’s menu for the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up at Ludlow Liquors.

by Mike Sula | Read more →

Local food books you might have missed—and some you shouldn’t
Seven newish and soon-to-be-new takes on coffee, midwestern food supremacy, Lula Cafe, and more

by Mike Sula | Read more →

February 2021

Kit brings the bar to you
The newly opened small business offers professional quality bar tools and local expertise.

by Brianna Wellen | Read more →

August 2017

Schwa, now with fewer drugs and more adult responsibility
Now that it’s all grown up, has Schwa lost its edge?

by Michael Gebert | Read more →

Issue of
Sept. 7 – 20, 2023
Vol. 52, No. 24


View this e-mail as a web page




Chicago Reader on LinkedIn


Forward this e-mail to a friend.

Want to change how you receive these e-mails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Copyright © 2023 Chicago Reader, All rights reserved.
You were subscribed to the receive emails from Chicago Reader

Our mailing address is:
Chicago Reader, 2930 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 102, Chicago, IL 60616