Eatonville Restaurant invited me to work with them on a new monthly series of themed dinners called FOOD AND FOLKLORE. It combines three of my favorite things, food, culture, and Zora Neale Hurston. When I was introduced to the concept of crafting menus and a program around something topical, I thought “dinner party.”

With that, I looked up some tid bits about Zora’s kind of entertaining. Poet Sterling Brown said Zora “was the party.” Another mention was a “generosity with food.” Or artist/writer Richard Bruce Nugent (who was also in DC before he went to Harlem for their Renaissance in the 1920s) recalled, Zora would serve “not just food, but anything that you might be hungry for.”

I was part of the chef selection group when Eatonville Restaurant was a canvas in the corner space of the Union Row condominiums at 14th & V Streets, NW in DC. My role was not only to serve up opinion on the fried chicken and sandwich challenge, but to give the chef candidates an orientation to the woman who inspired owner Andy Shallal to create this sophisticated sister across from his poet Langston Hughes-inspired Busboys and Poets. I still haven’t convinced anyone to put gingerbread and butter milk on the menu – Zora’s fall back when she was cash strapped.

Valerie Boyd, author of the Zora Neale Hurston biography Wrapped In Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston — a very cozy book that you can sink yourself into–is the special dinner guest for Food and Folklore at Eatonville Restaurant on November 13 at 6:30 PM. Valerie contributed recommendations for the menu.

The evening begins with a reception with passed hors d’oeuvers, followed by dinner and dessert with the guest speaker. The prix fixe menu, prepared by executive chef Rusty Holman , is $45 per person (plus tax and tip).

Reservations are required for FOOD AND FOLKLORE: Email – or call 202-332-(ZORA) (9672).

Eatonville Restaurant is located at 2121 14th Street, NW in the historic U Street corridor. It’s named for the childhood and spiritual home writer, playright, anthropologist/folklorist Zora Neale Hurston.

I’ll be chatting it up on WPFW-FM Thursday, November 5 at 9:30 AM on “Metro Watch.”