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Malcolm X the Food Rebel

Malcolm X the Food Rebel

Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Circa 1958

Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Circa 1958

In the 1950s  Malcolm X and the members of Harlem’s Temple 7 represented the face of the Nation of Islam in New York. In what he said, ate, and lived, Malcolm, says Harlem native Roy Miller who I interviewed for my book Hog and Hominy, “made a lot of people conscious about what they were eating . . . .” Changing African-American views toward food, especially pork, can be attributed to Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X.  Nation operated restaurants served beef and fish meals with brown rice, fresh vegetables, bean soup, and bean pies. You cannot talk about the Nation and food without discussing its delicious sweet custard bean pies which its members sold in ungentrified sections of New York, D. C., and  LA.

Bean Pie Recipe


2 cups navy beans (cooked)

1 stick butter (or butter substitute)

1 14-oz. can evaporated milk (vanilla Vitasoy)

4 eggs (or eggs substitute)

1tsp. nutmeg

1tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. flour

2 cups sugar

2 tbsp. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In electric blender, blend together beans, butter milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and flour for around two minutes on medium speed. Put mixture in a large mixing bowl. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Stir well. Pour into pie shells. Bake for around an hour until golden brown. Yields two or three pies.

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