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Family Reunion Forum

Re: Food and History Lessons
In Response To: Food and History Lessons ()

AfriGeneas Forum

Genealogy Soup
Genealogy Soup
Renee Shakespeare -- Friday, 27 August 2004, at 2:43 a.m.

I posted a message to the Family Reunion Forum a few days ago and at Mel's suggestion I am also posting to the Main Forum. While the original has been viewed so far none have responded. I am attempting to have both the Afrigeneas community and the listening audience of The Drinking Gourd, to suggest ingredients whic can be placed into a stew or soup. After all the ingredients have been decided upon and the recipe created, I thought we could use the dish or dishes to teach our history & heritage to African American Children and all others who wished to learn. For example, if the dish included okra we could talk about when this vegetable was first introduced into the US by slaves and the manner in which they used it. These recipes could be taught to sons and daughters in the kitchens of our homes across America and would keep alive the stories of our heritage. This would be a great idea for family reunions (as they ate someone could talk about the ingredients and even mix in a little family lore) or even the Sunday Dinner table. The original message is below.

While keeping in mind this forum is dedicated to family reunion planning & management, I think the posters to the forum could help me with an upcoming show as well as develop a new idea for the Black Family Reunion.

I would like to be able to show the correlation between the foods we eat now regularly in all four corners of the states and their tie to our heritage. We are attempting to make genealogy soup and hopefully we can develop a recipe which will be something all can make together at the next family reunion. Ideas anyone?

Re: Genealogy Soup
Cheryl -- Friday, 27 August 2004, at 9:16 a.m.

I think this is a wonderful idea!!

Well here are some of the things my mom cooked growing up:

Black-Eyed Peas with Ham Hocks (especially on New Year's Day for Good luck!); Fried Chicken; Pickled Pigs Feet; Lima Beans & Ham Hocks; Cornbread; Lemon Meringue Pie; Chicken Livers & Onions...these are ones that immediately spring to mind.


Re: Genealogy Soup
Renee Shakespeare -- Friday, 27 August 2004, at 10:50 a.m.

Congratulations you are the first response I've had. Now, we've got to take this a little further. Let's look at those foods that spring to your mind and see if these recipes for cooking were influenced by our African Ancestors' way of cooking. As we build this information., we can teach about our African Ancestry.


Re: Genealogy Soup
Cheryl -- Friday, 27 August 2004, at 11:25 a.m.

LOL thanks for the congrats lol. Actually, this is a rather timely topic as when I visit my mom in Alaska next week (she is 83 years young) I was planning on writing down all of her recipes for these very things, because I think a culinary history is an important part of our family and cultural history. Although we didn't have access to them growing up in Alaska due to the shipping issues back in the 1960s and 1970s, I also remember my mom talking about the deelish GREENS that her mother used to cook! How she would take the collard/turnip/mustard greens and cook them with ham hock if they were available.

I had always assumed that dishes like pigs feet, tripe, chitterlings etc. had their origins as being leftover, unwanted "waste" type of meat that slaves were given as the "leftovers" but then in later years families stuck to these old time recipes because they had learned how to create wonderful recipes!

Here is a great cookbook I have that is well worth exploring:

It is called "Soul Food: Classic Cuisine From The Deep South" written by Sheila Ferguson, originally written in 1989, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, New York.
The author was the lead singer of the music group "The Three Degrees." It is a WONDERFUL book, filled with old family photos, stories, recipes, definitions, historical info, and a broad overlook at what constitutes "Soul Food." You might find it interesting to read!

Bye for now!

Re: Genealogy Soup a Book called
cynthia -- Friday, 27 August 2004, at 2:02 p.m.

MOTHER AFRICA'S TABLE by The National Council of Negro Woman, Inc. I fund this book on a clearance on one of the internet sites. When I got it I was amazed that it had been reduced so low because there or a lot of old and international recipe's. One that I tried. Its amazing how some of our people won't think twice about trying expensive menu's but turn up their nose to a item that has all familiar ingredients
2(8OZ) cns blackeyed peas, drained
1 (16oz) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chile or 1 cup diced omato and 1/4 c canned diced green chile
3 stalks green onions (scallions) sliced
1/2 c sliced black olives
1 c bottled italian dressing
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (abt 1 cup)
FRITO brand corn chips
Combine the black-eyed peas, tomatoes and green chile, green onions, and black olives in a mixing bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss to mix well. Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight, Before serving, stir in the feta cheese and corn chips. Serve immediately.

There is another blackeyed pea salad with corn.

Recipes were compiled by Cassandra Hughes Webster
Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub. Grp, Inc
1540 Broadway
NY, NY 10036
It tells the history of recipes from Africa to USA.

Re: Genealogy Soup
April Kelley -- Friday, 27 August 2004, at 6:46 p.m.

Hello All
Here are my thoughts on the subject. First of all, if you are a genealogist nut and a food nut then you must have in your collection Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine by Norma Jean and Carole Darden. I first came across this book a number of years ago. As a matter of fact, I had to "rebuy" it because my original copy turned yellow and started falling apart. It is a book that traces their family history and aligns it with the food that they used to eat. If you don't already own this book, and you can still find it, you need to purchase it, LOL.
In terms of food, history, and family tradition, here are some that we have in our family:
Collard greens on New Years Day for money/wealth during the coming year.

Hoppin John (black eyed peas and rice) for luck. (PS, I didn't start eating the stewed tomatoes on top until I moved to VA, seems that this is how they eat them here)

Oyster Stew on Christmas morning. Not sure why Granny did this one but she did, and we ate.

Easter Ham. I think that this one is self explanatory.

Now, here is something interesting about my family and Thanksgiving. My grandmother says that when she was a little girl (and Granny is now 92, people didn't sit around and eat on Thanksgiving. That day was reserved for hog killing. Men would go from house to house and help the family kill the hog(s) that would feed them for the coming year. Not sure when we made the transition inside to the dinner table with the big celebration. Ironically, now Thanksgiving for us has become a "mini" family reunion with as many as 30 some odd people joining in or stopping by for a plate.

Fish on Fridays. I think my granny started doing this when she was housekeeping for her Catholic clients. When I was growing up, we ate whitings and porgies EVERY Friday, LOL.

Yams versus Sweet Potatos: Actually, I don't think I have ever had a traditional African Yam. Somehow the name translated from our forefathers to the vegetable that is the Sweet Potato.

Chicken Feet! Yea, I said chicken feet. My mom used to tell us all the time that when she was growing up, children did not eat chicken, that was reserved for the adults. They would fry up the chicken feet and the kids would crunch on those.

Cough Medicine. Every family had their own version. Our's was brandy, rock candy, honey, and onions. When you are a kid, this sounds horrible but I wouldn't mind a spoonful right about now, LOL.

These are just a few of the food "traditions" that we still remember and honor in our family.
I think that a lot of what you eat/ate has to do with where you are regionally. We are mountain/country people. When my Granny was growing up, they ate trout and "river" fish but they didn't do a lot of seafood like shrimp and oysters however my beautician who is from Louisiana says that they manage to get crabmeat or the like in every meal, LOL.
Gotta go, just made myself hungry typing all of this.
Peace and Blessings (and don't forget to say the grace)

NEW: Re: Genealogy Soup
Gerry Stewart -- Saturday, 28 August 2004, at 6:51 a.m.

I'd like to add my Grannys cough medicine for us kids growing up! Onions, lemon lime, grapefruit, honey, add water. Her saying was " If it don't kill you, it would heal you". It always seem to work(hmmm) I wonder why?

NEW: Re: Genealogy soup
Renee Shakespeare -- Saturday, 28 August 2004, at 4:34 p.m.

You guys are making it very difficult to even THINK about weightwatchers, much less stick to the plan LOL!

Anyway, I'm hoping to get started building this recipe pretty soon so we can broadcast is many times before next summer rolls in and it's once again time for family reunions.

So will it be one dish or several that we use? Looks like to cooking up to be several dishes. Now the only thing I have to do is discover how our ingredients tie back to African, The West Indies, ect.

I'm going to start with the yam and we'll keep everyone posted. Right now though, I'm going to go eat!


NEW: Re: Genealogy Soup
George F. Nagle -- Saturday, 28 August 2004, at 5:22 p.m.

Great idea for the genealogy soup. But may I also use the occasion of the topic of food coming up to note that the Afrolumens Project started a "food" section several months ago and it hasn't really gotten off the ground yet.

We're looking for recipes, reminiscences, family stories, etc. Anything to do with how food plays an important role in the African American community. I've talked with lots of friends and acquaintances about it and everyone thinks its a great idea, but so far little actual response. Maybe everyone is still at the table.

So if you have stories, recipes and anything you want to share (doesn't have to be Pennsylvania--the local African American community has ties to almost every state so all data is welcome) pleases check out this new section.

Afrolumens Project: Food
NEW: Re: Genealogy soup
April Kelley -- Saturday, 28 August 2004, at 5:27 p.m.

Food and Genealogy, what a mix!
I was surfing on the net and I found this page. It proved to be quite informative, may have some of the info that you are seeking.
Good luck in your recipe. Whatever you come up with, I am sure that it will be delicious.
Peace and Blessings.

NEW: Re: Genealogy Soup-Yams
George F. Nagle -- Saturday, 28 August 2004, at 5:49 p.m.

Someone mentioned yams in a post. The original African yam is not what most Americans are used to. It has a very dark, bark-like outer skin and the inside flesh is creamy white. They can also grow up to six feet in length, but most of those marketed in the U.S. (most major supermarkets sell them as nyame) are less than a foot long and weigh one to three pounds. I spent 24 years selling produce and we sold quite a few of these to customers with Latin and Caribbean heritage.

The familiar American "yam" is really a sweet potato. Louisiana growers, in the 1880's, developed a variety of sweet potato that was sweeter, with darker (deep orange) flesh, and that stored very well. They trademarked it as a "yam," and it has been sold under that name ever since. Recently, the USDA ruled that all such potatoes must be sold under the name of "yam sweet potato" to avoid confusion with the more traditional "Jersey sweet potato" (long, thin, yellow flesh) and of course the African yam, which is appearing in almost all supermarkets lately.

Now for the history (I should have put this first). Enslaved Africans brought to the Americas missed their traditional yams, a staple food in their diet, and found that the sweet potato, which is native to South America, made an acceptable replacement. By the 1500's, Spanish and Portuguese explorers and settlers had brought the South American sweet potato to the Caribbean and North America. Enslaved persons, forced to make do, used the sweet potatoes much as they had used the African yams, and referred to the new vegetable as a yam. The name became particularly common in the southern U.S.

In some northern states, sweet potatoes were often referred to only as "potatoes," while white potatoes were called Irish potatoes. As
African American migration to the north increased, the term yam, to refer to sweet potatoes, became commonplace almost everywhere.

It shouldn't be so complicated to describe such a delicious vegetable, and I've had a few customers become very angry with me when I tell them that a yam is really just a variety of sweet potato. But that is the truth--check out the web site below for particulars.

Hungry yet?

Difference between yams and sweet potatoes

NEW: Re: Genealogy soup
Renee Shakespeare -- Saturday, 28 August 2004, at 6:53 p.m.

April that is perfect!

This is exactly what I have been looking for. I can't wait to start planning a meal for a family reunion and writing the history tidbits which can be told while the meal is being enjoyed. Girl you have done it with this website find! Everyone should go and check this one out!.


NEW: Re: Genealogy Soup
Renee Shakespeare -- Saturday, 28 August 2004, at 7:04 p.m.

George your postings are so informative. I always love to log on and see you name I know the information will be good. I too am going to share my favorite food story for the website. Nobody cooked any better than my grandmother Lucille Kennard Shavers Hill. And my favorite meal of all time is what she called "ice" (taken from the word Irish) potatoes & onions. Some of you know the dish as smothered potatoes. She would cook this along with "biscuit bread" which is actually a great deal like the spongy bread of African I've been reading about recently. (Her grandmother who was a slave taught her to cook). To this add a big thick link of sausage with lots of "grissel" and open a can of sorghum molasses. Man weight watchers doesn't stand a chance this week. I'm going to eat!

Messages In This Thread

Food and History Lessons
Re: Food and History Lessons

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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