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A Culinary Look at Women in History Part 6: Oral Traditions in the Kitchen

Macaroni and cheese, recipes below for the traditionalist and vegans!

In African-American culture, seasoning was an art form that largely women passed down through oral tradition from one generation to the next. It could only be learned through a lengthy apprenticeship with an experienced cook, as well as years of practice, until it became instinctive. From a young age, African-American children, mostly female, began their cooking apprenticeships by closely observing older cooks within their family and extended family. Over time, adults would assign a child chores with ever-increasing difficulty to acclimate the child to the art of cooking. “Because our recipes were seldom written down, we had to rely on momma’s and grandma’s experience and what we could learn by watching as they went about their chores in the kitchen” writes soul food cookbook author Pearl Bowser. “The advantage of learning at grandmother’s elbow is discovering things which are not found in any book.” You learn how to season and cook food by “being there” when momma does it. Then one day somebody finally turns to you and tells you to make something like macaroni and cheese from scratch and you do it. “For this reason the soul food cook usually knows instinctively how much salt to add, when the grease in the pan is hot enough, and how long before it’s time to open the oven,” writes Bowser. Here's a mac and cheese recipe which seems the most appropriate to share with this story:

Southern-Macaroni-and-Cheese Recipe:

Vegan-Macaroni-and-Cheese Recipe: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=8295.0

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