After a negative experience dining out with a group of black friends for a birthday celebration, Eden Hagos was determined to create a platform for the black foodie. And thus, Black Foodie was born. Fast forward a year and a half later, countless posts, and over 10k Instagram followers – Hagos' goal remains the same: to give insight on what it’s like to love food and be black. From the good, to the hard to digest.
SOAB: Besides your experience, where did your passion for creating Black Foodie come from?
Eden: I got my undergrad in sociology so I already think about race and gender, but I never applied that lens to food. I grew up in a food oriented family so I started thinking a lot more and asking myself questions and it really stirred up this passion inside of me to move forward with food.
SOAB: What kind of response have you received from not only the concept, but the title ‘Black Foodie’ itself?
Eden: When I say Black Foodie people black and white have been critical of it. I think some people are scared of the label BLACK. I’ve gotten negative feedback after sharing my experience from hate messages, to comments like ‘black people don’t tip’ or ‘black people are lousy customers'– even 'All Food Matters.' And then on the other hand my experience went viral and a lot of prominent people in the city were talking about it in a positive way. Sometimes when I wear my shirt people think it’s comical and my approach is ‘why is it funny?’ I’d rather ask questions to allow people to think further.
SOAB: I understand you live in Toronto. What is the food scene like there?
Eden: Toronto is a super multicultural city you really can try anything for the most part, except for soul food. That’s the one thing that I crave and it’s hard to find here. But for the most part if you’re interested in trying foods from the African diaspora, there’s a huge Caribbean population in Toronto so you can get it in any neighborhood.
SOAB: Are you getting in the kitchen, reviewing restaurants, or both?
Eden: I really like to mix different ingredients and flavors that come from the African diaspora. Being Ethiopian I grew up on certain spices and I like to experiment and twist it up a bit. I don’t review restaurants, but I definitely try to highlight ones that are doing good things. I’d rather focus on other parts of the experience.
SOAB: What are your three favorite dishes to eat?
Eden: I actually just had this for breakfast – sweet potato pie. I really love it, but you can’t really find it out here. People get confused. The second one I would say is Misir, it’s like spicy lentils. That’s an Ethiopian/Eritrean dish. And third, plantains. I love plantains the way Caribbean folks make it, the way West African folks make it, the way people in South America make it. Any way you cook or fry plantains I’m down to try it.
SOAB: What are your future goals for Black Foodie?
Eden: Short term: bringing on more voices, and reaching wider audiences. Long term: I really want to be able to host a festival or some sort of large event that brings the top people in the food world together.