How do you feel about cooking and baking? I love it. I love working in the kitchen and producing wonderful treats and goodies to eat. I enjoy the work that goes into providing nourishment for my family. And I especially like the feeling I get when my daughter joins me in the kitchen and works with me.
Tonight, we made a cake. Or rather, I tried to make a cake. My daughter and my Godson made a mess. By the time it was all said and done, the kitchen was a mess and each of us was pretty well covered in icing and flour- because along the way, someone thought it would be a splendid idea to make cookies from scratch in addition to our cake.
This got me thinking about the ancestors… I wondered about Mary. Was she a house girl? Someone’s maid servant, who dressed and cared for the Mrs. of the home or someone’s mammie, whose sole purpose was to feed and care for the children? Might she have been relegated to the kitchens of a large house (here, my imagination begins to run rampant and I am picturing sprawling lawns, with rolling hills and a huge Gone With The Wind type mansion of a home) or was she a field girl, destined to spend her days under the harsh sun, driving rains and icy winters?
If Mary was anything but a cook, how and when did she learn to cook for herself? I know that slaves had their own way of doing things and that food preparation usually was done by one person (generally another slave, whose duties allowed them to return to the slave quarters earlier than the others). I also know and can imagine the work of a slave was hard and laborious, making extra chit chat and fun almost nonexistent. So, who taught Mary how to cook? And what did she cook? Was it trial and error? I remember the first time I ever cooked anything- I was trying to help my mom out and I made spaghetti. I used absolutely NO kind of seasons whatsoever. It was the most bland thing I have ever tasted (yes, even to this day). But my mom ate it. Another time, I tried my hand at bake chicken… the outside looked absolutely delicious, while the inside (the parts near the bone) were red and cold. I think my husband made a McDonald’s run or something to save us from the horrors of that chicken dinner. Is that how it was for Mary and her family? Is it possible that some other slave or free person took her under their wing and teach her?
Growing up, I remember my grandmother dawning an apron and pinning one on me and telling me each step as she prepared whatever dish or meal- even though I was only knee high to a broomstick. Obviously, Mary did not starve as she birthed several children that eventually led to my Nana and clearly, each of those generations starved not, so someone was cooking. I just wish I knew what. Were there special dishes that were passed down that were ‘crowd favorites’ or were these ancestors of mine concerned less about tradition and more about nutrition that they just made do with whatever food sources available?
Ahhhhh the unknowing is killing me! I see some research on popular foods of the early 1800’s in my future. I wonder if once I find these ‘lost’ recipes, if I will be brave enough to try them or if my family will be brave enough to eat them.
Anyway, you all should tell me your favorite family recipes and how they have been passed down through the lines of your generations? When it comes to food, have you started your own food traditions within your own families? I would love to hear about them in the comments! And don’t forget to like and share!