Saturday, December 26, 2015

Plantation Life - Duties and Responsibilities (Slave Cooking & Food)

The DeBow's Review article made the issue of food for enslaved workers understood to be significant to masters:
"Servants should be well fed. Not on Botany Bay provisions, stale and tainted, unless under convict punishment; not stintedly, unless upon diet; but wholesome and sound, and of this sort enough. Where they are required to cook their own victuals, time and means ought to be afforded them for doing it to the best advantage. Cooking has much to do with how far a given quantity of raw material will go. All alimental properties may be saved and used, or a large part of them thrown away in the process. The best virtues of a piece of meat may be wasted upon a coal or spit, and what would, with skill and economy in its preparation, do for two men, will hardly satisfy the hunger of one. A great chemist has announced to the world a method by which people could subsist on one third of their usual allowance: cook it with threefold more care, and chew it three times as much. In many a cabin the chief article in the kitchen inventory is a wornout corn field hoe. With this, turned up on its eye, the cake is baked; hence the widely-prevalent name of that simplest edible form of Indian meal--the hoe-cake. . . .

Variety in food is healthy as it is pleasant. It keeps up the chemistry of the system. A vegetable garden in common is a good thing: not cultivated in common, for it would not be cultivated at all on the community principle; not used in common, for then it would soon be used up; but laid out of ample size, cultivated and dealt out by authority, for the common benefit. The servant should have an honest interest in the forward roasting ears, the ripe fruit, the melons, potatoes, and fat stock."

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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