Tag Archives: slavery

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Gullah Bacon Corn Muffins and the Gullah Geechee Saga

Southern cuisine has deep roots in Africa. One of the most vibrant cultures contributing to the South’s identity was actually one that evolved from unintended diversity.

The Gullah Geechee is a distinct group descended from slaves brought from West Africa to the coastal areas of the South in the early 18th century.  They were instrumental in building the wealth of the southern states for decades. However, when the Civil War loomed, and fearing anti-slavery retribution, many plantation owners moved inland for safety reasons, leaving slaves to fend for themselves on the coast islands. Out of this circumstance grew the Gullah Geechee culture, one with unique community, spirituality, farming, music, crafts and cuisine.

The origins of the names are somewhat shrouded. The name Gullah is possibly a truncating of Angola and Geechee may have come from the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia, although both find linguistic similarities in African tribal languages. Gullah is associated with residents of South Carolina, while Geechee those of Georgia. They live in an area referred to as the Gullah Coast reaching from Sandy Island, South Carolina, to Amelia Island, Florida.[1]

The Gullah Geechees’ West African ancestors were selected for enslavement because of their regions’ suitability for raising crops, especially rice, indigo and cotton, that were important to the southern economy. With similar climates in the American South to those in their native lands, the slaves were exceptionally skilled at working the land, and their efforts contributed substantially to the foundational wealth of the South’s plantation industry.

The Gullah language has a singular history as what linguists call an English-based creole language. It illustrates the way slavery so profoundly altered and created its own subculture:

Creoles arise in the context of trade, colonialism, and slavery when people of diverse backgrounds are thrown together and must forge a common means of communication….In the case of Gullah, the vocabulary is largely from the English “target language,” the speech of the socially and economically dominant group; but the African “substrate languages” have altered the pronunciation of almost all the English words, influenced the grammar and sentence structure, and provided a sizable minority of the vocabulary.

The British dominated the slave trade in the 18th century…. This hybrid language served as a means of communication between British slave traders and local African traders, but it also served as a lingua franca, or common language, among Africans of different tribes. Some of the slaves taken to America must have known creole English before they left Africa, and on the plantations their speech seems to have served as a model for the other slaves.[2]

In this melting pot of African and southern influence, the Gullah Geechee created their own society, not reflecting one culture, but drawing from a need for self-identity in their own defined space. According to Gullah expert and cookbook author Sallie Ann Robinson, the Gullah Geechee were “artists and makers, weaving stunning sweetgrass baskets for agricultural uses and cast nets for fishing. And their spiritual beliefs, combined with the praise melodies they inspired, helped sustain and guide them through conflict and heartache.”[3]

The Gullah Geechee farmers being so highly skilled, many crops of African origin were introduced and incorporated into the dishes now known as Southern cuisine. “Southern food and Gullah food are well connected,” Robinson explains. “When people didn’t know what to call Gullah, they called it Southern. It was shrimp and grits, fried chicken, collard greens, lima beans, cornbread, biscuits, gumbo, and cabbage. It was a little of everything.”[4]

So enjoy the recipe-with-a-past below knowing it came from far overseas across centuries of time to bring homemade goodness to your table. It certainly has a history to remember.

Coffin Point Praise House, St. Helena Island, South Carolina

Visit Geechee and Gullah Culture and Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor to explore more about the history, cuisine, music, crafts, religion and other attributes of the Gullah Geechee people, and learn how they are working to preserve, share and pass on their cherished heritage.

 

GULLAH BACON CORN MUFFINS

Recipe courtesy of Sallie Ann Robinson, Gullah Geechee – Southern Cast Iron

Cook Time 15-20 minutes

Serves: About 16

Filled with crisp, smoky bacon, these savory corn muffins are the perfect companion to any Southern supper.

Ingredients

  • 16 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 3 cups corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2½ cups warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted butter, to serve

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 3 (6-well) cast-iron muffin pans with baking spray with flour.
  2. Chop the bacon into small pieces; reserve 3 tablespoons. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, then blend in the warm milk and melted butter. Combine with the flour mixture; fold in bacon pieces, mixing all together. Spoon mixture into prepared pans until wells are about three-fourths full; sprinkle with reserved 3 tablespoons bacon.
  4. Bake until tops are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm with butter for best taste.

 

 

[1] Geechee and Gullah Culture | New Georgia Encyclopedia (archive.org)

[2]  https://glc.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Gullah%20Language.pdf

[3] Gullah Geechee – Southern Cast Iron

[4] Ibid

Related:

https://antiquitynow.org/2015/09/02/bon-appetit-wednesday-sweet-and-easy-corn-on-the-cob/

https://antiquitynow.org/2014/06/04/bon-appetit-wednesday-grilled-butter-miso-corn/

https://antiquitynow.org/2014/02/02/super-bowl-2014-and-aztec-chocolate-caramel-popcorn-sweet-victory-all-around/

 

 

The Slavery Project: Bringing the Past Alive With 3D Printing

The Slavery Project

Bernard Means

Bernard Means

Today’s technologies can bedazzle the mind and senses. One of the most amazing has been the development of 3D printing. For those of us intrigued with past lives, 3D printing allows us a unique intimacy with those who have gone before. Being able to hold the model of an artifact in hand, to realize how hundreds, even thousands of years ago, other hands similarly grasped this object, is profoundly moving. This is a vital component of The Slavery Project–to immerse ourselves in the past and to feel the humanity of those lost to enslavement. Not necessarily an experience easily had, but one of critical insight, especially for young people. And this is our hope for the legacy we hand the generations that follow. That through those painful memories of slavery can arise a global will, a new world of our collective creation, where human bondage is itself a thing of the past. Continue reading

Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery

13th amendment with text copy

The text is as follows:

Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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Also, COMING SOON!! The launch of The Slavery Project by AntiquityNOW. Stay tuned to our blog for more information about this important new educational project.

The Slavery Project Part 3: In the Eye of the Beholder

La_Rochelle_slave_ship_Le_Saphir_1741As we discussed in Parts 1 and 2 of In the Eye of the Beholder, The Slavery Project (TSP) is an ongoing, interactive series of modules that incorporates lesson plans along select historical plot lines detailing slavery in a particular society during a specific period.  TSP is designed to provide students an immersive experience where a culture is explored according to the social, cultural, political and economic conditions of the time. Continue reading

The Slavery Project Part 2: In the Eye of the Beholder

JMW Turner's

J.M.W. Turner’s “The Slave Ship”

As we discussed in Part I: In the Eye of the Beholder, The Slavery Project (TSP) is an ongoing, interactive series of modules that incorporates lesson plans along select historical plotlines detailing slavery in a particular society during a specific period.  TSP is designed to provide students an immersive experience where a culture is explored according to the social, cultural, political and economic conditions of the time. Continue reading

The Slavery Project Part 1: In the Eye of the Beholder

Roman collared slaves. Marble relief, from Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey), 200 CE. Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England.

Roman collared slaves. Marble relief, from Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey), 200 CE.
Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England.

Slavery has been part of the human condition for centuries.  Although largely outlawed in modern times, human bondage still exists today in various forms, including sexual trafficking, domestic servitude and illegal work conditions. Why has slavery been an accepted part of numerous civilizations through time? Why does slavery continue to exist today in various forms around the world? Continue reading

Image

In Remembrance

Nelson Mandela 3