Everyone knows Tuskegee has molded many of a great mind, like George Washington Carver‘s, Albert Murray‘s and Ralph Ellison‘s. What is less known about ‘Skegee is that it had a top notch culinary and hospitality program, that sent its graduates all around the world even West Africa before it was fashionable to go there. I will look into making a more in depth post. But for now here is a picture of one of its graduates, a young Octoroon setting a table.
I suppose one good thing about having a largely ignored blog is no one notices when I’m not on schedule. I am a week late with this post, my apologies.
The picture above is that of a country ham I recently received. It tastes great, I actually ate breakfast for dinner last night so I’d have a reason to have some more.
This morning, I started editing an old post on the failures of America’s black middle class. I am not much of a writer so it isn’t coming along all that well, but I’ll share the opening paragraphs:
The Boston Brahmins revered history and worshiped their forbearers, shunned materialism and promoted art, culture and spirituality. These Bostonians stood atop America’s caste system, and were called Brahmins-after the Hindus who owned a similar position in their culture’s class structure. A lesser known social phenomenon were a strata of Negros whom lived adjacent to these elite Bostonians, who emulated these values. They were highly literate, loved knowledge, lived to glorify their ancestors and their sense of noblise oblige led them to be at the for front of the abolition movement. Unfortunately they were quite insular, practiced an odd form colorism and engaged in middle class snobbery. They of course weren’t Brahmins, but middle class – Negros hadn’t the freedom to gain such a status. Still they sat astride Northeastern Black America’s class structure and maybe even Black America’s. They also exhibited the failure of our nations Black upper and middle classes to lead, inability to create an model 0f aristocracy based upon values owned by them. Never created a philosophy of thought particular to African Americans, matter of fact they embraced White American values wholeheartedly, though fortunately they emulated the most noble of whites.
Paul Devlin is an expert on Albert Murray and Ralph Ellison, as far as I am concerned. He is also amazingly literate and well read and seems to always know how to highlight the most interesting parts of whatever he is reading. I follow him on Twitter and he is maybe the only person on their who can critique T.S Eliot and has also read Ice Burg Slim. Not to mention he can easily float between discussions on Louis Armstrong and Krs One (tho somehow he doesn’t understand that Big Daddy Kane is the superior artist.) Anyway, I think its clear I am an admirer him. Here is an article on Ralph Ellsion he wrote for Slate, called Why Did Ralph Ellison Never Publish his Second Novel?, its a great read so check it out. The references he makes will give atleast a month worth of literature to read. Here is a little taste:
What if Ellison’s novel didn’t end in fire, but in ice? In 1967, the crime novelist Iceberg Slim, a reformed pimp, published Trick Baby: The Story of a White Negro, which features an African-American con man, Blue Leon Howard and his protégé, Johnny O’Brien, better known on the south side of Chicago as “White Folks,” an African-American but “a dead ringer for Errol Flynn.”
Slim, like Ellison, was clearly intrigued by the possibilities that a “white Negro” suggested for fiction, and the two stories have several notable parallels. Slim situates the smooth operator O’Brien, much like Ellison’s cunning Bliss, as the adopted son of a tough, wise, soulful African-American man. The age difference between Slim’s Howard-and-O’Brien team is approximately the same as that between Ellison’s Hickman-and-Bliss team, about 25 years. And just like Bliss, O’Brien eventually leaves the African-American community that raised him behind and blends in with white circles in America.
In contrast to Mailer’s white hipster, who seeks a sort of anesthetic sexual liberation through what Mailer sees as the wild, psycho-sexual world of blackness, Ellison and Slim’s characters appear unambiguously white yet are raised within highly-structured institutions of the African-American community: the church and the con game. Christianity, and even the big con, reflect a formality that Mailer failed to see in African-American culture. To Mailer, African-Americans are “cultureless” and “illiterate,” comprising a community that “relinquished the pleasures of the mind for the more obligatory pleasures of the body.” A far cry from Mailer’s white Negro, Ellison and Slim’s white Negroes, though raised on opposite sides of the black community, both learn rhetorical techniques from their adoptive black fathers that they then employ for personal gain on the other side of the color line. These “white Negroes” are wily operators, shrewd manipulators of psyches and institutions, and ice-cold customers on a relentless quest for money and power—hardly primitives chasing orgasms.
Sunday would not be Sunday with out a bit of Gospel. I don’t actually tend to like this style of gospel music, but do like this redo of the old Negro Spiritual Balm in Gilead by the Clark Sisters. Good day and God bless.
In America the pig has a long association as the poor man’s food. I have never quite taken that idea seriously as it isn’t the cheapest food, that title I think belongs to chicken or maybe fish(free). But this particular verse promotes an interesting perspective. Posing the pig as the ultimate investment for the downtrodden. Unlike banks it doesn’t crash, if it dies you can at least make soap out of the lard. When slaughtered, one can barely contain the bounty, its so great! So screw Chase, they got enough of your money during the bail out and buy an heritage pig! Or hunt a wild boar.
Of Hogs and Men
(courtesy of Encyclopedia of Black Folklore and Humor)
De Hog am de po’ mans bes’ frien’; not dat I’m ‘quainted wid po’ folks. I see’em sometimes gwine along de road, but ef’n I was po’ an’didn’ have but a dolluh, I’d ‘vest it in a pig, sho’. It better’n de bank, cazedat do bus up now an’ den, but it diff’unt wid de hog- he always ‘roun you , an’ in dese unsartin timesit wuth consider’able ter have yo’ ownin’s wha’r you kin retch out yo’ han’ an tetch em’.
DEn, s’posin’ he die fo’ his time, it ain’t so much loss caze you can kin b’ile ‘im up an’ make sorf soap outen ‘im. He de’ mos’ ekernomical , de mos’ increasin’is’ an’ de’ mos’ yieldin’is’ critter dat goes. He ‘stro all de trash an’ slops weeds roun’ de house ‘doubt botherin’ nobody ter tote ’em off. He always gettin’ bigger an’ fatter, an’ when he’s kilt , de yieldin’s is so numersome you sca’cely got de room ter sto’ em. You kin eat ’em from de yurs down ter de foot, an’ sprang out ter de’ tip uv de tail.
We eat ‘im hot, we eat ‘im col;
We eat ‘im young, we eat im’ ol;
We eat ‘ im tender , we eat ‘im tough;
An’ yit we never got enough.
De hog live so close to ter po’ folks he larns a heap uv deir ways. Ef you gi ‘im sup’n he grunt ; ef you gin ‘im nothin’ he grunt; an’ whatsom-ever you do, he grunt an’ complain. Ef’n he got thanks inside dey comes out in grunts -jest like some people I kin mention.
I have noticed the rise of many nouveau Soul Food recipes. While I support anything that keeps the traditional food ways of African-Americans alive I tire of these newfangled; 10 cheese, sour cream, and breadcrumb laden recipes I come across so much these days.
Here is a recipe in which I feel embodies the spirit of the traditional dish the way it was made by our grand parents. Inspired both by my parents and The Tuskegee Institutes recipes.
First, boil 2 cups of macaroni pasta in lightly salted water
While the pasta is boiling, make a cheese sauce. Melt butter (2 tbs) in a sauce pan over low heat, saute a little finely dice onion whisk in flour (2tbs), then stir in heavy cream(1 cup) and milk (1/4 cup)(or evaporated milk). Stir non stop until it is thick. Take off heat, add your choice between creole seasonings, paprika and salt and pepper (to taste), add 1 1/2 cups of grated or chopped up sharp white cheddar cheese( I like traditional English). Stir until cheese well mixed.
Next, Cube 1 pound of sharp yellow cheddar cheese ( I like American cheddar here) and mix it, the cheese sauce and the cooked and cooled down macaroni( 1-2 cups) to together in a bowl. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese and buttered bread crumbs on top(if you must modernize) and bake for a half hour to 45 minutes.
The very attractive Terri Burns aka Authentic Geechie Girl runs the blog Geechie101, where she gives folks who are interested a chance to read how a Gullah person speaks, in order to learn the basics of the language. She also runs a YouTube channel, where you can hear a real Gullah person speak it is a fun and entertaining resource. So check her out, you’ll love her.
Authentic Geechie Girls Crab Recipe, in her own words:
So I had da get me sum crab tadey. Wha all y’all put een da wata da seasun da crab? I put salt, fresh garluck, cayenne peppa, unyun, mustard, soy saws, winega, Chuchs peppas, kosha dill pickull, olive oil, crab seasunin, hot chili saws, haw saws & uf I feel like gwine ta da corna sto I ga get a Bull o 211 Steel Reserb. Den I ga fux a spicy garluck butta da dup um een! Wha een ya wata? Geechie101AGG
All ingredient should be used to taste.
- Dill pickle
- Olive Oil
- Crab/Seafood seasoning
- Hot Chili sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Beer (steel reserve preferably.)
Saute the onions and garlic in pot with olive oil until onions are soft. Add rest of the ingredient except for the crab and bring to a boil. When the mixture starts to boil add crabs, cook for a few minutes until crabs are done.
Serve with Hot garlic butter
Hot garlic butter recipe:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add remaining ingredients; heat for 1 minute.
courtesy of Sally Robinson
Servings: Makes 2 sandwiches
From Sallie’s “Cooking the Gullah Way: Morning, Noon, & Night.” (with my family seasonings added)
1 dozen large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced crosswise into 1/2 -inch rings
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
4 slices good-quality French or country white bread
4 pieces lettuce
4 slices tomato
1. Rinse and drain the shrimp. Place them in a medium bowl with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Toss to coat with the seasoning and then set aside, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion slices and fry gently until the onion is soft, about 20 minutes, then remove from the oil and discard the onions (they’re for flavoring the oil). Leave the oil in the skillet over very low heat.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg and milk together.
4. Heat the oil so a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees. Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and place them, a few at a time, in the egg wash to coat. Remove theshrimp one at a time from the wash and place them in the flour, coating each well. Shake off the excess flour before carefully placing the shrimp in the hot oil. Fry the shrimpuntil golden on each side, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove the fried shrimp and place them on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
5. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and mustard. Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly over one side of the bread slices, then divide the lettuce evenly between two of the four slices. Divide the tomato slices evenly over the lettuce, then top with the shrimp. Place the remaining slices over the shrimp and serve.
This isn’t a family recipe, I took this off the internet sometime ago and for the life of me cannot recall the source. While we know the sweet potato is a New World crop I do not know where sweet potato pone originated. I’d guess it was created by Black slaves, as it exists everywhere the transatlantic slave trade touched. Unfortunately, it is not as popular in America as it once was, but still quite common is Jamaica and other West Indian nations. Most people eat pone as a desert but I find it is also a great side with dinner particularly around the holidays.
Try the recipe out , comment and let me know how it came out.
- 2-1/2 pounds of mashed sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 cup milk or evaporated milk
- 2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cane syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Preheat oven to 375°F.Roast sweet potatoes until tender. Let cool. Peel and mash the potatoes, then stir in melted butter.In a bowl, beat the eggs, add sugar and beat thoroughly. Add milk, vanilla, molasses, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and orange zest. Beat until well blended. Stir into mashed sweet potatoes, then mix until well blended.Place the mixture into a buttered 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Let cool before serving.