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Culture

For The Hungry Black Man Blog, Every Bite Tells A Story

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Starex Smith, Miami-based food blogger, is 'The Hungry Black Man,'

Miami blogger Starex Smith is exploring local food scenes from the perspective of a hungry black man.

His blog The Hungry Black Man is a mix of restaurant recommendations and profiles of food entrepreneurs across Florida and other states he visits.

But since Smith's home base is Miami, South Florida gets a lot of love on the blog.  

By day, Smith is the Parks and Recreation deputy director in Miami Gardens  and he also works as vice president of Miami's Black Tech Week--but in what little spare time he has, he is an unabashed foodie or as he puts it, "I freaking love this."

Smith talked to WLRN's Nadege Green at one of his favorite Miami Gardens restaurants Lorna's Caribbean Grill. Read an edited excerpt of their conversation below. 

Here you are writing about food. Why food?

Food tells a story. Food food tells a story of culture. Food tells a story of pain. Food tells a story of triumph and I think that there's no better way to share your individual story. When you say, "Hey I got a great restaurant you have to try. Or, you have to try the jerk chicken here or you have to try the the challah from Sonny's Bakery in North Miami Beach which is phenomenal."

I love hearing the stories of the restaurant owner. I freaking love this. 

On the blog you have a series it's called "Dining While Black"  What is dining while black?

Dining while black came off of a play of "driving while black." The same challenges that we have with driving, you have with dining. And you know, I mean obviously you might not get killed,  but you're faced with these conundrums. What happens is as a person of color we're demonized a lot in the restaurant industry. 

You know the stigma that comes with black people don't tip.  I worked at Shula's Steakhouse which is a very affluent steakhouse in Miami Lakes and I was a busboy and I remember the waiters saying to me, "Oh man, God I hope I don't get them."  You know because they look at our  our people and say they're not going to tip. 

"Dining while black" is  you know we face these challenges, stigmas...I've received such bad service, but now I'm faced with this conundrum. Do I tip over? Do I under tip to validate their fears?  Or do I say, "Hey, look I'm nothing like that. And  your belief that I'm not going to tip and being dismissive of my presence and of my dollar is wrong." 

What does your foray into the food scene tell you about South Florida? What have you discovered?

What I've discovered is that we are more eclectic and diverse than anyone could imagine, but in the same frame we are extremely segregated.

Beverly Hills Cafe  has amazing salads and I thought of this analogy.  I'm eating this salad and I put the dressing on the salad and I'm mixing all of these components together. You use words like "melting pot" and  we're not a melting pot because a melting pot actually meshes components together into one. 

Miami is more like a salad bowl where you have all these components and so when you put the dressing that's what keeps all those components of the salad together... and you're just forcing them together with this fork.

You drive down 27th Avenue and you go through these  communities and it's unfortunate where you know this is the black side of town. This is the Hispanics side of town--these are the Puerto Ricans and these are the Cubans--and that's a problem because the food ecosystem is the same.

Food is something that connects all of us. Hopefully this blog will be that connection. 

You can find The Hungry Black Man at www.thehungryblackman.com