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Caribbean Pepper-Pot History

Caribbean Pepper-Pot History

Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Circa 1893

Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Circa 1893

Here is a story about the history of the Pepper-Pot dish in celebration of National Beef Month.

In the Caribbean, British planters quickly became the minority to African slaves. Many of the planters were so focused on returning to England wealthy that they made little effort to re-create English culture and, instead, slaves were allowed to retain and cultivate an African-American cooking aesthetic. By one estimate, “80 percent of British imports of Gold Coast slaves went to Jamaica, the largest British sugar-producing region in the eighteenth century.” In Jamaica, planters supplied slaves with weekly rations of salted fish and set small parcels of land aside for their slaves to cultivate produce and raise animals on Sundays. Slaves in Jamaica managed to raise fowl, pigs, vegetables, and rice. What slaves did not use to supplement their rations, they sold on Sunday, the traditional market day and a free day for slaves. With their earnings they purchased salted beef or pork. They then combined the meat received as rations and purchased at market with produce from their gardens to prepare a spicy creolized stew they called oglios, or pepper-pot. Today it’s a traditional dish throughout many parts of the Caribbean. For those who do not eat meat there are plenty of vegetarian meat substitutes that you can use to replace the poultry, pork, and beef in the dish.

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