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Corn Series: Hoe Cakes

Corn hoe cakes, recipes below  (photo courtesy of http://www.yummo.ca/)

Born in 1902, Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and several other Midwestern communities at the turn of the century. In his autobiography he talks about his aunt and uncle Reed who kept a family garden stocked with among other items collard greens, peas, corn, and apples. Hughes recalled that his aunt cooked wonderful “greens with corn dumplings” along with “fresh peas and young onions right out of the garden,” he says. “There were hoe-cake, and sorghum molasses, and apple dumplings with butter sauce.” Historically, enslaved African field hands received little in the way of cooking utensils from their European masters. Thus out of necessity they made hoecakes by baking a corn meal batter over hot cinders on the blade of a long handled hoe they used in the field. West and Central African farmers used the long handled hoe in their fields and introduced it to the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade. Baking corn on the hoe is a facsimile of how African women in Angola and São Tomé had baked corn bread wrapped in banana leaves in the cinders of fires.


White Employers, Black Domestics, and Infrapolitics

Corn and the Civil War