Deb Freeman is a food podcast superstar. The Norfolk native and current Richmond-area resident hosts "Setting the Table," one of the country's highest-rated food podcasts. In fact, the podcast reached #1 status during its first season earlier this year.
"I was hoping that someone would listen to it. I did not know that people all over the world would listen to it," Freeman told Scott and Robey on the Eat It, Virginia podcast. "I was just really caught off guard, I was just like, 'alright, I'm gonna check the stats, check the chart.' And it hit number one, I almost fell out of the chair."
Freeman's podcast focuses on the impact African Americans have made on American food.
"I knew I wanted to do something about Black baking. I wrote an article on yellow cake and people that I did not know were sending me pictures of their grandmothers and their mothers and sharing their memories and crying. So things like that kind of spark, oh, this might be an interesting podcast," Freeman said. " So I lay out, who I would like to talk to who would be interesting. Cheryl Day, who wrote an incredible book, James Beard nominated, was kind enough to say yes. Carla Hall was kind enough to say yes."
In addition to Black baking, Freeman explores Black brewing, Black farming, and lays out the argument for Virginia being the birthplace of American barbecue.
"Barbecue was created in Virginia," Freeman stated with confidence. "It was the combination of Native Americans, enslaved African Americans, and Europeans, that mixture was not happening anywhere else at the time. You've got pigs and vinegar from Europeans, you've got some smoking techniques from Native Americans, and then you've got not only the seasoning techniques of Africans, and later African Americans, but really knowing how to cook something low and slow.
"That's something that only happened in Virginia, and people need to be proud of it you're from Virginia. Let's talk about it because people aren't talking about it."
Oh yes, we talk about it much more on this episode of Eat It, Virginia!