A Culinary Reflection of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. 1908 -1972
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1908-1972) became the first African American to serve in the U. S. Congress (1945 to 1971) representing the 22nd congressional district, which included Harlem. Powell also served as pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, perhaps the most politically powerful African American congregation in New York City. Both of Powell’s parents were southerners. “I was born more than a half century ago, when [a] black stove was a place of magic where the coal fire always glowed and from which good things came,” writes Powell. He goes on to say, “I don’t know how we modern men live on such paltry offerings—food then was food. For breakfast we had a different hot bread every morning—muffins, biscuits, corn bread, loaves of hot oatmeal bread with handfuls of raisins and blueberries sprinkled through them; pancakes so big that they seemed to be a yard wide but, in fact, were only the size of a big frying pan. . . and popovers so big you could put up your hand inside, which there was room for plenty of butter.” A Popover is a hollow quick bread shaped like a muffin and made from a thin batter of eggs, milk, and flour. Popovers evolved out of English pudding batters from the 17th century with their first documented history in a 1850 letter and later in a late nineteenth century cook book. Its popularity made its way from Maine to New York and some called for greasing the muffin tins with beef or pork drippings creating a meat flavored pastry. Other interpretations used garlic and herbs in the batter and still another recipe included substituting purred pumpkin for some of the flour and further flavoring the batter with allspice, nutmeg, and or cinnamon. Today most popovers have a butter flavor instead of meat or eggnog like flavor.