Saturday, April 19, 2014

This Week’s Best Foodways and Food History

Professor of History and Foodways Frederick Douglass Opie of Babson College shares his favorite mp3 downloads and documentaries on Passover and Easter.
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Eat Feed Easter Specials:

Sophisticated, Easy Easter: Listen Now [25 min 50 sec]

Good Food’s Easter and Pastor Over Special: Listen Now [57 min 35 sec]

A Chief’s Table Easter Specials:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Food Experts Talk About The Easter Table

Butchering meat in Florida. Great Depression Era Photo (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Food Experts Bryant Terry and Fred Opie Discuss Food and The Easter Table [Listen Now 10 min 4 sec]

A Fresh Take on Easter:

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Easter Stories and Recipes:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Planting and Eating From Your Garden Part 2

Tomato Pie, recipe below  
While on family trip to Vermont we stopped at a small village cafe that served a tomato dish I had never had before, tomato pie. It may sound strange to some, but it was awesome! The pie reminded me of the ingenuity that people employed in the kitchen to survive using garden vegetables during the Great Depression. In 1933 the Federal National Relief Agency (NRA) distributed food to families which many used to supplement their diets during the Depression. Singer and song writer Nina Simone’s father worked as a NRA truck-driver in North Carolina delivering food. Drivers received extra food to take home and built a network in which they could trade NRA food and what they raised in abundance in their subsistence gardens at home including “collard greens, string beans, tomatoes” with drivers who had “more sugar or flour than they needed” recalls Simone. 

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Lenten Season Series with Related Recipes:

Easter Stories and Recipes:

Tomato Pie Recipe:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Planting and Eating From Your Garden Part 1

Between the 17th and 19th centuries some 50,000 enslaved Africans disembarked on the island of Cuba. Born in Cuba 1860, Esteban Montejo experienced slavery first-hand and observed the many strategies enslaved people used to survive including cultivating community gardens. Cutting the rations allocated to slaves, especially in the sugar producing regions of Louisiana, Brazil, and the Caribbean represented a common strategy masters/employers took to reduce their expenses. Esteban says it was the small gardens "that saved many slaves" from starvation "providing them real nourishment" thus most had a garden plot that they maintained when they had the space to do so.  They raised food for their tables and sold what they raised on Sunday market days when they did not have to work for their masters. I thought about this food strategy and something I heard community garden activist John Spencer said during round table discussion on the local food movement held at Babson College. Spencer said that when he started the community garden movement in Wellesley, Mass, some 10 years ago he couldn't give away garden plots to residents. But, he said today there is a 20 year wait to get a plot! I've read of protest that enslaved people organized against their masters to demand time and space for subsistence gardens. Now it's time to plant tomatoes (corn and beans) in many places.  Tomatoes sold in the majority of supermarkets are flavorless unless you are willing to pay high prices for them. Why not plant your own, save money, eat more nutritious pesticide free produce that taste better?

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Growing Tomatoes: [Listen]

Gardening Series with Related Recipes:

Tomato Series with Related Recipes:

Lenten Season Series with Related Recipes:

Easter Stories and Recipes:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Civil Rights, 1964, and Mississippi Foodways

Mississippi Delta tamale
Freedom Summer in Mississippi began in 1964, just one year after the assassination of Medgar Evers. It became one of the most important initiatives of the Civil rights movement. Robert (Bob) Moses orchestrated the movement. But in contrast to the movie The Help, which shows black women as pawns, African American women like Fannie Lou Hammer played important leadership roles at the local level in McComb, Mississippi where Freedom Summer began. The goal of Freedom Summer was to combat African American disenfranchisement and the barring of blacks from participating in the state Democratic Party and to defeat the white racist members of the regular Democratic Party. Those who attempted to register to vote often lost their jobs and experienced physical violence and or police harassment. Black and white college students from northern institutions served as volunteers during Freedom Summer. One little known tradition in the Mississippi Delta has been African American entrepreneurs who have sold tamales for a living. 

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Hear Fannie Lou at 1964 National Democratic Party Convention [Listen Now 8 min 11 sec]

Mississippi Delta Tamale Recipe:

Mississippi Tamale Documentary Film: [Watch Now 5 min]

Lenten Season Series with Related Recipes:

Easter Stories and Recipes:

Friday, April 11, 2014

History Through the Lens of Food

Babson Professor of History and Foodways Fred Opie visits a class at Harvard University which read is book Hog and Hominy: from Africa to America. He shares with the class the genesis of the book and research related stories. He then asks the students to share their own food traditions which unfolds into a dynamic conversation about food preferences, regional and global foodways, ethnicity, and recipes.

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Lenten Season Series with Related Recipes:

Easter Stories and Recipes:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Comedian Chris Rock Through the Lens of Food

Sweet potato pie, recipe below

I once heard Comedian Chris Rock declare, "I love sweet potato pie!" Chris Rock grew up in Brooklyn but he was born in South Carolina where is mother’s family is from. Author Isabel Wilkerson
tells us that southerners followed three migration streams out of the south during the Great Migration: folks from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas followed a West coast migration to California; some people from Louisiana and the majority who came from Mississippi went to Chicago and other parts of the Midwest like Cleveland and Detroit; migrants from the upper south from states like Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia followed an East coast migration to among other places, Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, and Boston. When they relocated, Southern migrants brought with them a tradition of church membership and foods iconic to their southern roots like sweet potato pie.  

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Lenten Season Series with Related Recipes:

Sweet Potato Pie Stories and Recipes:

Chris Rock’s Southern Roots:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Where Is The Rice?

A bowl of Carolina long grain rice, related recipes below
One year my children and I joined some members of our church in making dinner for male residents of a YMCA in their forties and over. Many of them could best be described as brothers, fathers, uncles, and grandfathers estranged from their families for various and sundry reasons. The residents of the Y slowly poured into the make shift dining room in the church’s fellowship hall and started through the buffet line filling their plates. They then sat and enjoyed the food with many raving about how good it all tasted. A short time later, an African American Y resident in his fifties  started through the line filling his plate like the previous men, but stopped half way through the buffet line with a confused look on his face. I asked, what’s the matter? He said with a heavy southern accent, “Where is the rice?” I said you must be from the Carolinas? He said “yup I’m from South Carolina.” The exchange reminded of the centrality of rice in the culinary history of many parts of the Americas where slave traders imported thousands of Africans from the West African rice belt between Cape Verde andthe Gold Coast.In Cuba, the Carolinas, and the West Indies most would regard a meal as incomplete without rice. 

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Lenten Season Series with Related Recipes:

Rice Pudding:

Vegan Rice Pudding:

Mushroom Risotto Recipe:

Vegan Mushroom Risotto Recipe:

Rice and Beans/Peas and Rice Series:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Religion and Temperance in Antebellum America

Banana-Peach Buttermilk smoothie, recipe below
Former slave Louis Hughes who grew up an enslaved person on a plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia. He describes beverages served at a plantation barbecue that are indicative of antebellum religion and politics. “The drinks were strictly temperance drinks - buttermilk and water,” says Hughes. Between 1825 and 1835 the Presbyterian minister Charles Grandison Finney led a spiritual revival and preached social reform sermons in Central and Western New York which became known as the burned over district. The temperance movement came out of the revival calling Christians to be filled with the Spirit of God and not with strong drink. Nineteenth century elites also latched on to this theme as way of encouraging their workers to say sober and thus more productive on the job. From Hughes we learn that the Second Great Awakening and the temperance message had its influence on his Virginia master. By the start of the Civil War, the joint Southern and Northern Presbyterian Church association split not over the issue of temperance but over the issue of slavery. Here’s a cold southern buttermilk drink recipe.

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Lenten Season Series with Related Recipes: