The Slave Owner 's Kitchen Essay

The Slave Owner 's Kitchen Essay

Length: 1750 words (5 double-spaced pages)

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We will redefine the mythical “Mammy” image that is often portrayed in the slave owner’s kitchen to reveal the slave cook’s complex role in slavery and their legacy in reshaping Southern Cuisine with a semblance of the food that graces southern tables today. For centuries, African slaves were considered prominent cooks in Egyptian households. In Muslim Spain, too, male slaves prepared meals in aristocratic homes while their wives prepared food in poorer homes. Even today, women in sub-Saharan areas in Africa are often hired to prepare couscous. West African slaves in the colonies were also skilled cooks and took advantage of other cross-cultural ingredients that entered the country to create new cuisines. For over three hundred years, as the colonies transformed from small areas into profitable communities, so to did the role of the enslaved cook, in addition to their transformation of food as a means to survive to the center of attention at parties, family events, and other social functions.

During the 1600s English colonists worked on smaller farms alongside their indentured servants and enslaved Africans. White women labored next to their husbands to clear land, and to plant and harvest crops, while cooking and cleaning the home. Additionally, women spent the majority of their day working in the fields alongside their husband and their slaves to clear land, plant and harvest crops. Food was regarded as a necessity for survival rather than an indulgence. They ate whatever meat they could catch including vermin, and vegetables and grains that would grow. Their houses were small one and a half frame structures with one or more rooms on each floor. Kitchens consisted of a hearth in common spaces in the house with per...

... middle of paper ...

...uble recipes for gatherings.

Time management was also a must as enslaved cooks had strict deadlines to prepare the many dishes that were served for breakfast, dinner, and supper that they were assigned on a daily basis for the slave owner’s family. The mistress demanded that every dish was ready to serve at the appointed time. The enslaved cook was a key figure to the slave owner’s dining experience and the entire enslaved community. The cook used her instincts and her senses. She listened for the just right temperature of frying oil; looks for the perfect color of biscuits; felt the food’s texture, and could determine when the bread, cakes, and pies were ready by smell; and tasted to adjust spices and seasoning. Enslaved cooks did not have thermometers yet they had an innate ability to put cake batter in a pot with a bigger pot containing coals around it and

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