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12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave

Horace Bradley, A Southern Barbecue, Courtesy of Harper's Weekly

Horace Bradley, A Southern Barbecue, Courtesy of Harper's Weekly

The movie Twelve Years a Slave, based on Solomon Northup's autobiography, has been nominated for a number of prestigious movie awards. The book describes the horrors of slavery and the agency of enslaved people. It also documents 19th century Louisiana food traditions.  For example, around Christmas a wealthy planter hosted a barbecue for as much as “three to five hundred” slaves (and their owners) “from neighboring plantations to join his own on the occasion,” Northup tells us. A former slave in Louisiana, he explains they would come “on foot, in carts, on horseback, on mules, riding double and triple,” for the food and fellowship around a large table “spread in the open air, and loaded with varieties of meat and piles of vegetables.” Open pit barbecued meats cooked “in the shade of wide branching trees” proved to be the main culinary attraction of these rural integrated Christmas suppers. Slaves dug a pit and fill it with wood “burned until it is filled with glowing coals, over which chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, and not [in]frequently the entire body of a wild ox [were] roasted.”

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Community Service Over the Holiday Season

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A Culinary Look at Women in History : Afro Cuban Women