Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Interview Food Writers Norma Darden & Vertamae Grosvenor

The following is an interview with food writers Vertamae Grosvenor and cook book author and co-owner of the the Harlem restaurant Spoon Bread Too, Norma Jean Darden

Monday, September 1, 2014

Food and Religion, Iberian Colonial America

Pork related recipes and stories below

Labor Day is traditional a time when folks in the United States barbecue. Many like me will barbecue some delicious part of a hog. The Spanish first introduced large numbers of domesticated hogs to the Island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean in the 16th century. Because the islands had no predators and many root crops to graze on, the pigs thrived.  Europeans quickly learned from locals how to smoke and barbecue the pig. In 1555, one traveler described the residents of Santo Domingo as having great amounts of pork and poultry. The pork, he writes, is “very sweet and savoury [sic]; and so wholesome that they give it to sick folks to eat, instead of . . . poultry . . . I” Before the invention of refrigeration necessity required meat lovers to eat locally and for many that meant pork from hogs they raised or their neighbors raised. In tropical regions like the Caribbean, rural folk slaughtered, butchered, and consumed the meat of the hog generally on the same day or they smoked, salted, and or jerked the hog. Jerking (salting and drying it in the sun) to conserve meat has a long history and that extends around the globe. For example we know that in the Andes the Inca made jerked alpaca and llama meat. Finally, in part, the Spanish Inquisition also contributed to increased consumption of pork in the Americas among colonist in Iberian America. Eating massive amounts of pork became a strategy for avoiding public suspicion that one did not adhere to Catholicism and instead practiced a native American religion, Judaism, or Islam. Below are some pork related recipes and stories. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Food and Religion, 19th Century West and Central Africa

Let’s start out talking about food and religion in sixteenth through nineteenth century West and Central Africa. The Guinea hen was perhaps the most important foreign animal introduced to Africa during the Columbian exchange and the Atlantic slave trade. The lean and dry meat of this game bird was considered superior to chicken and pheasant. Arab traders introduced it principally to cattle-raising societies like the Fulani of northern Nigeria. The Fulani mastered the art of raising large flocks of Guinea hens in the grasslands where they flourished. West Africans also incorporated the Guinea hens into many of their religious celebrations. We know for example that among the Igbo, Hausa, and Mande, poultry was eaten on special occasions as part of religious ceremonies. Most important here is the fact that Africans were familiar with frying, baking, and making soups and stews with poultry before they arrived in colonial America because they traditional made such dishes as part of religious holidays and ceremonies. 

Georgia Fried Chicken

1 young chicken, weighing from 1 ½ to 2 pounds
Vegetable shortening
1 ½ to 2 cups flour
Salt and Pepper

“Take a small chicken (In modern terms, use a cut-up frying chicken). Have a deep-fry pan ready with grease at least 2 inches deep (Lard was often used, or in later years vegetable shortening.)”
Sift enough flour in which to roll the chicken pieces. Add salt and pepper to the flour and roll each piece in flour. Place in hot grease. Put the largest pieces in first and on the hottest part of the pan. Cover for 5 min. Remove cover and turn when underside is well browned. Replace cover for another 5 min., and then cook in open pan until bottom side is brown. About 30 minutes if chicken is not too large. Do not turn but once; too much turning and too long cooking will destroy the fine flavor.
Chicago Daily Defender, February 12, 1968

Fried Chicken Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Fried+Chicken

Butter milk Based Fried Chicken [Watch Now] Recipe:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxEhH6MPH28

Vegan fried chicken recipe: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=7534.0

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Eating While Poor in Marks, Mississippi and Newark, New Jersey

In his 1968 speech, “Remaining Awake Through A great Revolution,” Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) reflected on a recent trip he took to Marks, Mississippi, which at the time had the unflattering reputation as the poorest county in the United States. He recalled speaking with unemployed parents that had no kind of income, welfare, or food stamps. “I said how do you live? And they said well we go around—go around to the neighborhood and asked them for a little something. When the berry season comes, we pick berries; when the rabbit season comes, we hunt and catch a few rabbits that’s about it.”  In the northern ghettos of 1968 Newark, New Jersey and Harlem in New York City, MLK also found parents struggling to put food on the table and feed their children. King described these food deserts in the rural South and urban north “as kind of domestic colon[ies]” where the people remained invisible because the economic divide in United States limited contact between them and the more affluent Americans who worked, worshiped, and relaxed and in vastly different spaces. As King put it “our expressways carry us away from the ghetto, [and] we don't see the poor." 

Eating While Poor Series with Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Eating+While+Poor

Food Stamp Series: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=food+stamps

'Food Stamp President': Race Code, Or Just Politics?: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/17/145312069/newts-food-stamp-president-racial-or-just-politics

Bob Dole & George McGovern - History of Food Stamp Program: [watch 14 min sec] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0_OWueb_8Y

Market Place’s Krissy Clark on Food Stamps: [Listen Now 26 min 30 sec] http://www.wnyc.org/story/what-you-dont-know-you-dont-know-about-food-stamps/

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School Foodways Series, Virginia State

Lamenta Crouch recalls, there was a lot of “starchy foods including potatoes served with just about every meal and lots of pasta,” in the Virginia State cafeteria in the late 1960s
At Virginia State (Virginia State University Today (VSU)) students ate what they called “wonder meat” because “we wondered what it was,” says Lamenta Diane Watkins Crouch, a 1970 Virginia state graduate. Her older sister Francis Ann Watkins Neely graduated from Virginia Union in 1967. “I really did not like the lamb chops,” that they served in the cafeteria. “My husband went to Howard University and he told me that the meat that they served in the student cafeteria there he believed [were poor quality cuts that] came from the Federal government.” In general “we southerners just did not like the lunch and dinner menus in the college cafeteria,” says Watkins Neely. The food at Virginia State, according to her younger sister Lamenta Watkins Crouch, “was not seasoned the same as home,” and there was a lot of “starchy foods including potatoes served with just about every meal and lots of pasta.” “My mother was a really good cook and that what I grew up on” says Watkins Neelly. “We southern students were always receiving care packages from home filled with good food. So we always knew somebody on campus who had just received a care packages so we would go and eat that instead of the cafeteria food.” In contrast she said that the northern students who had fewer options seemed to say very little about the cafeteria food at Union than the southerners. 

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Virginia Foodways and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Virginia

Back To School Series: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Back+to+School+Series

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to School Series, Virginia Union

Orange, Pineapple, Banana Smoothie, recipe below
As part of my back to school series, I want to share a story from Yemaja Jubilee an alum of Virginia Union a HBCU in Richmond, Virginia. Located just a couple blocks from Virginia Union were two popular eateries for African Americans called the Greasy Spoon and Johnnie B’s. Johnnie B’s made the best baloney burgers, served with “fried onions, lettuce and tomato, and if you want to, throw a little piece of cheese on there too, that’s good right,” recalls Jubilee a native of Virginia who attended the college in the 1960s. “And the buns were big! They weren’t like the buns now! I get excited talking about it,” says Jubilee. They also sold milk shakes, “all different kinds of milk shakes.” It was the kind of place where there were often lines going out the door to order food “and it was black owned.” 

Orange, Pineapple, Banana Smoothie recipe:

About 3 cups of orange juice or more
2 cups frozen pineapple bits
1 frozen banana
½ cup vanilla soy or regular yogurt
1/3 cup of honey if desired
Scoop of vitamin enriched protein powder

Combine ingredients in a blender and crush on high, had additional orange juice if needed but best when served thick rich. Makes 5 servings

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Feeding The Revolution in New York City in 1968

1968 City College of New York Community Breakfast Program
Babson College Professor of History and Foodways Frederick Douglass Opie at the 2012 Boston University Food in the City Conference