How enslaved chefs helped shape American cuisine

“It is the story of people like Chef Hercules, our nation’s first White House chef; and Emmanuel Jones, who used his skills to transition out of enslavement into a successful career cooking in the food industry, evading the oppressive trappings of sharecropping. It is also the story of countless unnamed cooks across the South, the details of their existences now lost.

But from its most famous to its anonymous practitioners, the story of Southern cuisine is inseparable from the story of American racism. It’s double-edged—full of pain—but also of pride. Reckoning with it can be cumbersome, but it’s also necessary. The stories of enslaved cooks teach us that we can love our country and also be critical of it, and find some peace along the way.”

From: “How Enslaved Chefs Helped Shape American Cuisine: Black cooks created the feasts that gave the South its reputation for hospitality” by Kelley Fanto Deetz on (2018)

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