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Bound to the Fire: How Virginia's Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine

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In grocery store aisles and kitchens across the country, smiling images of -Aunt Jemima- and other historical and fictional black cooks can be found on various food products and in advertising. Although these images are sanitized and romanticized in American popular culture, they represent the untold stories of enslaved men and women who had a significant impact on the nat In grocery store aisles and kitchens across the country, smiling images of -Aunt Jemima- and other historical and fictional black cooks can be found on various food products and in advertising. Although these images are sanitized and romanticized in American popular culture, they represent the untold stories of enslaved men and women who had a significant impact on the nation's culinary and hospitality traditions even as they were forced to prepare food for their oppressors. Kelley Fanto Deetz draws upon archaeological evidence, cookbooks, plantation records, and folklore to present a nuanced study of the lives of enslaved plantation cooks from colonial times through emancipation and beyond. She reveals how these men and women were literally -bound to the fire- as they lived and worked in the sweltering and often fetid conditions of plantation house kitchens. These highly skilled cooks drew upon skills and ingredients brought with them from their African homelands to create complex, labor-intensive dishes such as oyster stew, gumbo, and fried fish. However, their white owners overwhelmingly received the credit for their creations. Focusing on enslaved cooks at Virginia plantations including Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and George Washington's Mount Vernon, Deetz restores these forgotten figures to their rightful place in American and Southern history. Bound to the Fire not only uncovers their rich and complex stories and illuminates their role in plantation culture, but it celebrates their living legacy with the recipes that they created and passed down to future generations.


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In grocery store aisles and kitchens across the country, smiling images of -Aunt Jemima- and other historical and fictional black cooks can be found on various food products and in advertising. Although these images are sanitized and romanticized in American popular culture, they represent the untold stories of enslaved men and women who had a significant impact on the nat In grocery store aisles and kitchens across the country, smiling images of -Aunt Jemima- and other historical and fictional black cooks can be found on various food products and in advertising. Although these images are sanitized and romanticized in American popular culture, they represent the untold stories of enslaved men and women who had a significant impact on the nation's culinary and hospitality traditions even as they were forced to prepare food for their oppressors. Kelley Fanto Deetz draws upon archaeological evidence, cookbooks, plantation records, and folklore to present a nuanced study of the lives of enslaved plantation cooks from colonial times through emancipation and beyond. She reveals how these men and women were literally -bound to the fire- as they lived and worked in the sweltering and often fetid conditions of plantation house kitchens. These highly skilled cooks drew upon skills and ingredients brought with them from their African homelands to create complex, labor-intensive dishes such as oyster stew, gumbo, and fried fish. However, their white owners overwhelmingly received the credit for their creations. Focusing on enslaved cooks at Virginia plantations including Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and George Washington's Mount Vernon, Deetz restores these forgotten figures to their rightful place in American and Southern history. Bound to the Fire not only uncovers their rich and complex stories and illuminates their role in plantation culture, but it celebrates their living legacy with the recipes that they created and passed down to future generations.

30 review for Bound to the Fire: How Virginia's Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I found this well researched book about enslaved cooks in Virginia fascinating, yet it was obviously a sobering look at the ugly practices of slavery. The narrative of this non-fiction story takes place exclusively in Virginia, yet much of the slavery methods and the degradation the slaves endured was universal to the American South. As the women of the home were typically in charge of the house slaves, this book often centers on the unhealthy dynamic that developed between the mistress of the h I found this well researched book about enslaved cooks in Virginia fascinating, yet it was obviously a sobering look at the ugly practices of slavery. The narrative of this non-fiction story takes place exclusively in Virginia, yet much of the slavery methods and the degradation the slaves endured was universal to the American South. As the women of the home were typically in charge of the house slaves, this book often centers on the unhealthy dynamic that developed between the mistress of the home and the cooks in the kitchen. The quote "Enslaved cooks and their mistresses had a unique relationship that revolved around the production of food, all tangled in the web of power, oppression, violence and negotiation" is a good summary of much of this book's message. Yet, the book is also a tribute to Virginia's enslaved cooks for it shows how these slaves were able to hold onto their culture and develop the art of fine cooking that is still held dear today, all while enduing back breaking labor. My family recently traveled to DC and visited George Washington's Mt. Vernon in Virginia. The estate does not shy away from sharing how slavery was part of the Washington's life, and I came away from the visit subdued and sad, to have seen close up the conditions in which slaves were used for their white owner's own ease and gratification. Plus, my reading of this book is timely as the recent controversies with the governor and attorney general of Virginia show that discrimination is still rampant. As such, these types of scholarly studies are important for people to understand how the legacy of captivity continues to affect our country today.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I picked this book because the words, "How Virginia's Enslaved Cooks Helped invent American Cuisine", intrigued me. This book is full of the history of the enslaved cook with much content devoted to the living and cooking quarters of the cook, their role on the plantation, their role in society, some personal biographies of former enslaved cooks, and even much about the Mistress's role on the plantation. The relationship between the Cook and Mistress is repeated ad nauseam throughout the entiret I picked this book because the words, "How Virginia's Enslaved Cooks Helped invent American Cuisine", intrigued me. This book is full of the history of the enslaved cook with much content devoted to the living and cooking quarters of the cook, their role on the plantation, their role in society, some personal biographies of former enslaved cooks, and even much about the Mistress's role on the plantation. The relationship between the Cook and Mistress is repeated ad nauseam throughout the entirety of the book. I must have read upwards of 20 times about the fact that the relationship was complex and the mistress locked up the sugar...yawn. A whole 3 pages near the end of the book actually dealt with what I had come to learn, "How Virginia's Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine". By that time I didn't care anymore, I just wanted the repetitive diatribe to be over so that I could mark the book as "read" and move on. Don't get me wrong, there is some good and interesting stuff in here. It would be a much better book if the often repeated portions of text were removed, making it several pages shorter, and a rename is in order too. Maybe, "An intimate look at the relationship between enslaved cook and mistress on the Virginia plantation", for example.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daphyne

    I was hoping this book would read a bit like a tribute to the much under-appreciated enslaved plantation cooks. Instead it feels like a college student’s research paper. The writing is sooooo dry. There is no story here, nothing to engage my emotions. The subject matter is important and as such I will continue to look for other resources.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    "Alongside the trend of grocery product advertising, black Americana material culture developed and gained popularity. Statues, kitchenware, and countless random items used the images of black-faced cooks to reinforce the racist and sexist memory of enslaved cooks. These material manifestations laid such a solid foundation in American memory that, until recently, even scholars had not delved into this vat of institutionalized racism and misrepresentation. These images functioned in many ways. Th "Alongside the trend of grocery product advertising, black Americana material culture developed and gained popularity. Statues, kitchenware, and countless random items used the images of black-faced cooks to reinforce the racist and sexist memory of enslaved cooks. These material manifestations laid such a solid foundation in American memory that, until recently, even scholars had not delved into this vat of institutionalized racism and misrepresentation. These images functioned in many ways. They were specifically targeted toward white Americans' fear of integration. Black Americana led white folks to believe that the old days were still in reach and that the black body, though free, was still controlled by white power. Having the image of a black cook in one's kitchen meant the 'ease' of black servitude was carried over, without having an actual black body inside one's home." This was really interesting and relatively short. However it's one of those non-fiction books where the after the colon doesn't quite fit with what's in the book. It's really more a history of how enslaved cooks functioned and the spaces as they still exist or what was left behind in the historical record in Virginia. I thought this might be more about specific foods or recipes, and there was some of that but not a lot. At the end it turns toward images of those enslaved cooks in popular culture (like Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima) and I wish there had been more on that. Would still recommend though.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    3.75 stars. I borrowed this book from a friend and read it a bit faster than I would normally. I am impressed by the research that went into this book - the sources used were interdisplinary and included letters, diaries, and archeological reports. The author used images like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben to pique interest and to challenge readers assumptions about the enslaved cook. I thought this book was best when discussing material culture and current interpretation at historic sites. Towards t 3.75 stars. I borrowed this book from a friend and read it a bit faster than I would normally. I am impressed by the research that went into this book - the sources used were interdisplinary and included letters, diaries, and archeological reports. The author used images like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben to pique interest and to challenge readers assumptions about the enslaved cook. I thought this book was best when discussing material culture and current interpretation at historic sites. Towards the end of the book the author briefly touched on themes of gender and masculinity and I would have loved to read more about that. Overall, the book was good - it was a bit short, but I guess that is more manageable. I would recommend it to a friend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ann L

    This book was interesting and certainly touched on an important topic, but I felt like there could have been so much more. It was essentially a literature review and a good starting point, but I wanted more about the personal lives of both the slaves and the white women. I wanted more archaeological findings. I wanted to read more about the food itself and how the enslaved cooks really shaped the cuisine. There were allusions, but I felt like it never quite fulfilled the promise. The entire book This book was interesting and certainly touched on an important topic, but I felt like there could have been so much more. It was essentially a literature review and a good starting point, but I wanted more about the personal lives of both the slaves and the white women. I wanted more archaeological findings. I wanted to read more about the food itself and how the enslaved cooks really shaped the cuisine. There were allusions, but I felt like it never quite fulfilled the promise. The entire book felt like an introduction that, ultimately, didn't introduce anything. As a jumping off place, this was a good read. I hope the author continues their research and I hope others are inspired to delve deeper into the lives and times of enslaved cooks.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jamee Pritchard

    This book found a space on my shelf because I am intrigued by the history of the American cuisine and its connection to slavery. I find it fascinating that the image of the enslaved cook remains in our culture in the form of Uncle Ben rice products and Aunt Jemima syrup. Kelley Fanto Deetz does a great job in giving voice to the enslaved cooks of Virginia by way of old recipes and plantation records. The reader learns about the labor involved in being a cook and the small bit of power that cooks This book found a space on my shelf because I am intrigued by the history of the American cuisine and its connection to slavery. I find it fascinating that the image of the enslaved cook remains in our culture in the form of Uncle Ben rice products and Aunt Jemima syrup. Kelley Fanto Deetz does a great job in giving voice to the enslaved cooks of Virginia by way of old recipes and plantation records. The reader learns about the labor involved in being a cook and the small bit of power that cooks had on the plantation, and in slave society, because their skill of cooking was so closely connected to this idea of Southern hospitality. I especially enjoyed Deetz's exploration of the evolution of the plantation house and kitchen, highlighting the correlation between architecture and race. Overall, I found the book an educational read and recommend it to readers who enjoy solidly researched work in the field of history, cooking, and African American Studies.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John

    A very good look at a perhaps forgotten aspect in American history: the contribution made by slaves with regard to cuisine in this country. The title may be somewhat of a misnomer, as it seems to be a larger view than just "Virginia." I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the historical aspect of cooking and cuisine, and for a study of it that has largely gone unwritten. Credit the author with what must have been a great deal of focused and arduous research in order to find the detai A very good look at a perhaps forgotten aspect in American history: the contribution made by slaves with regard to cuisine in this country. The title may be somewhat of a misnomer, as it seems to be a larger view than just "Virginia." I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the historical aspect of cooking and cuisine, and for a study of it that has largely gone unwritten. Credit the author with what must have been a great deal of focused and arduous research in order to find the details of this history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cork Tarplee

    Well researched investigation of the role, duties and living conditions of enslaved cooks in Virginia’s great houses before the civil war. Presented in a very readable way by a young historian who will clearly be a force in her field, the book challenges many of the assumptions of the 1920’s “Happy Darkies” mythology of American slavery—even ones that have slipped into mainstream history, such as the notion that Thomas Jefferson’s dumb waiter at Monticello was merely a labor saving device for hi Well researched investigation of the role, duties and living conditions of enslaved cooks in Virginia’s great houses before the civil war. Presented in a very readable way by a young historian who will clearly be a force in her field, the book challenges many of the assumptions of the 1920’s “Happy Darkies” mythology of American slavery—even ones that have slipped into mainstream history, such as the notion that Thomas Jefferson’s dumb waiter at Monticello was merely a labor saving device for his enslaved staff.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Demer

    Deetz investigates Virginia slavery from the vantage point of the cooks on the plantations. This to me is a new approach to seeing plantation life and the enslaved cooks who basically made possible the elegant social events which made Virginia famous. Using archaeological evidence, plantation records, cookbooks and recipes, she describes the lives of the cooks who were also slaves. First, they were just as much enslaved as any field hand. Although they sometimes had better living conditions, ofte Deetz investigates Virginia slavery from the vantage point of the cooks on the plantations. This to me is a new approach to seeing plantation life and the enslaved cooks who basically made possible the elegant social events which made Virginia famous. Using archaeological evidence, plantation records, cookbooks and recipes, she describes the lives of the cooks who were also slaves. First, they were just as much enslaved as any field hand. Although they sometimes had better living conditions, often living with their immediate families above or near the plantation kitchens, their work was just as exhausting and they were somewhat separated from other slaves on the plantation. Second, they worked in hot, fetid conditions from early morning when they made bread and prepared breakfast for the household and the late afternoon meal which often involved many courses and which was served formally and elegantly by other slaves. Deetz describes some of the foods prepared, and also includes some recipes. Large plantation holders frequently required their cooks to develop skill in the art of French cookery which was popular in the day. The enslaved cooks also often added foods that were familiar to them from their origins in West Africa, such as okra, pepper pot and gumbo, introducing African foodways into the American cuisine. Good cooks were always sought by those with means to enhance their reputation for fine dining. Cooks who were experienced often brought high prices. Whatever their slight advantages, working in the household rather than the fields, they were still slaves and treated as less than human. Small errors could bring on the wrath of the Mistress and result in severe beatings. Over the long term, the injustice was maintained, as their culinary expertise was often claimed by the Mistress of the plantation and they received no acknowledgement of their vast skills. I found the book to be interesting and gleaned a lot of new information from it. I will say though that it was not always easy to read, as there was quite a bit of repetition as the author quoted different sources for similar information and her writing style was sometimes stilted by unnecessarily long sentences and vocabulary sometimes designed to impress rather than impart clarity. I recommend it to anyone interested in slavery as it sheds a new and interesting on an often neglected facet of it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ferry

    Short read; wish it had gone into a little more detail. It did list a number of planations in the VA tidewater area that I'd like to look into - see if they're still around to visit. Short read; wish it had gone into a little more detail. It did list a number of planations in the VA tidewater area that I'd like to look into - see if they're still around to visit.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nefertari

    An excellent examination of the spaces, public and private, inhabited by enslaved people in the South. Also, an excellent look at the personalities that so often get lost in history, and the legacy of food left by these individuals that persists up to the present day.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mickie

    A disappointing read— perhaps because it’s old news to me. Maybe, for a reader with little or no knowledge of slavery’s history in America (and especially Virginia) would find more to applaud. It is a very repetitive account that could have been accomplished in less than half the pages.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Unfortunately, this selection was filled with repetition and unnecessary interpretation of, well, just about every assertion. There were a few fascinating bits of research, but then they were repeated throughout this small book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    It does an excellent job of examining the dynamics of race and class in Virginia through the lens of domestic servitude but there is very little on the specific Foodways that resulted from enslaved cooks’ influence. Disappointed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    An interesting look at a facet of the slave experience. Unfortunately, as with a lot of scholarship in this area, the available information is limited by necessity.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Feathers

    Small, but powerful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I really really wanted to like this book. I was so interested in hearing more about slaves in the kitchen and how they formed our food and dining traditions today. Unfortunately the author just didn't do it for me. I felt that there was no depth to the analysis of the impact that African slaves had on America's culinary traditions. The author pointed out that archeological evidence shows that foods we eat today were highly influenced by slaves and I would have liked to know what that evidence wa I really really wanted to like this book. I was so interested in hearing more about slaves in the kitchen and how they formed our food and dining traditions today. Unfortunately the author just didn't do it for me. I felt that there was no depth to the analysis of the impact that African slaves had on America's culinary traditions. The author pointed out that archeological evidence shows that foods we eat today were highly influenced by slaves and I would have liked to know what that evidence was and how do we know the influence came from West Africa. I would have just liked to see more analysis and more evidence rather then the sweeping statements about cooks influences. I would also have been interested in hearing more details about the lives these slaves led. While I realize that there are not a lot of records that exist that can give us details, the author does say that there are three types of sources that allow us to infer what a slaves life was like. Again I'd like to see more of that analysis done. As to the author's view that slave quarters and slaves lives aren't addressed when one visits a plantation house, I would have liked for the author to present a solution. I imagine many docents are volunteers. If I'm a volunteer and I read a book like this to help me round out my stories, I'm sadly disappointed b/c I don't see a lot of information that I can incorporate. So while I don't necessarily think the premise is wrong I would like to see more detail and analysis so that I can fully understand the scope of the lives of these enslaved cooks.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    An interesting and important study that needs to be explored but ultimately disappointing in its simplicity and analysis. This felt like a Masters thesis put to publication too soon. Further explorations of enslaved peoples’ experiences through many different resources, like historical archeology, are incredibly important, but limited in number. Deetz has not had enough experience with other resources to adequately analyze and come to any new conclusions. She makes broad, overgeneralizations of An interesting and important study that needs to be explored but ultimately disappointing in its simplicity and analysis. This felt like a Masters thesis put to publication too soon. Further explorations of enslaved peoples’ experiences through many different resources, like historical archeology, are incredibly important, but limited in number. Deetz has not had enough experience with other resources to adequately analyze and come to any new conclusions. She makes broad, overgeneralizations of data. Her understanding of previous foodways scholarship is limited, and that doesn’t allow her to compare and contract enslaved peoples’ foodways in any kind of comprehensive way. She gets the last name of a food history scholar wrong in the text (McCain is actually McCann) and it is also wrong in the endnotes and bibliography. The book started out promising, but then it quickly became undistinguished as she wrote things like “the enslaved cook singlehandedly transformed American food.” There were a lot of other enslaved people and free blacks who had a hand in transforming American food. She said that household mistresses wrote down predominantly recipes for desserts because they oversaw dessert-making. There are many other more plausible reasons than this that were not even mentioned. Deetz was repetitious at times, trying to make the same point over and over again. In chapter four, “Black Food on White Plates” I thought Deetz would discuss the foodways Africans brought to American. There was only a short section at the end that touched on this topic. Why would she suggest that Uncle Ben’s rice should be served with “trace amounts of poison”? She had discussed in an earlier chapter about poisonings and the fear of it by plantation owners, but it was inappropriate when brought up later, in a different context. There were too many oversimplifications, repetitions and narrow conclusions. This is an important type of study that will hopefully lead to more, and hopefully more thoroughly researched studies that help illuminate an incredibly important and undeveloped area of American history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Talia

    Book Riot Read Harder 2020: A book about a cuisine you've never tried before. This is also a category I'm fudging a little...but I'm a very adventurous eater and couldn't think of anything else! =/ This is a historical book about enslaved cooks, mainly in Virginia, and how they are responsible for shaping what we know as "American" foods. I was hoping for more on the culinary end, but a lot was about enslaved kitchen and living conditions, and the volatile and complicated relationships between en Book Riot Read Harder 2020: A book about a cuisine you've never tried before. This is also a category I'm fudging a little...but I'm a very adventurous eater and couldn't think of anything else! =/ This is a historical book about enslaved cooks, mainly in Virginia, and how they are responsible for shaping what we know as "American" foods. I was hoping for more on the culinary end, but a lot was about enslaved kitchen and living conditions, and the volatile and complicated relationships between enslaved cooks and "mistresses" of the house. Important information, but just not what I was expecting. Also included are stories of the cooks of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (spoiler: not happy stories), and discussion about "Black Americana" pieces and how they perpetuate racism even today. The latter is interesting to read about, seeing how this was published in 2017, several years before the whole "Aunt Jemima removal and (unneeded, imo) backlash in 2020.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    The topic of the book was interesting and the historical role of the kitchen slave isn't something I have seen written about much, but I felt like the author only skimmed the surface of many of the ideas presented. She had a handful of some good examples and a few slave stories, but other areas were thin in connecting research and could have benefitted with more detail. Maybe limiting it to Virginia was too narrow. I understand the establishment of Jamestown and arrival of first slaves in 1619 a The topic of the book was interesting and the historical role of the kitchen slave isn't something I have seen written about much, but I felt like the author only skimmed the surface of many of the ideas presented. She had a handful of some good examples and a few slave stories, but other areas were thin in connecting research and could have benefitted with more detail. Maybe limiting it to Virginia was too narrow. I understand the establishment of Jamestown and arrival of first slaves in 1619 as a good launching point, but it would have also been interesting to see how the role of the kitchen slave developed or varied throughout the south. She may have had more material to work with then as well. I found the most interesting parts to be the story of George Washington's runaway chef, the lengths Thomas Jefferson went to at meals to conceal his house slave help, and how the kitchen slowly shifted away from the house has the new American high society developed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Dofflemeyer

    I had the privilege of meeting author Dr. Kelly Fanto Deetz, and attended her lecture which was part of UVA’s bicentennial celebrations. In fact, she signed my book for me. In recent years, UVA has hosted numerous authors who wrote about slavery and slave lives, and I am happy to report that this is the 3rd lecture and book signing I’ve been to. The picture of true history just keeps getting clearer and clearer with the lens of these books that I’ve read. This book holds invaluable insight into I had the privilege of meeting author Dr. Kelly Fanto Deetz, and attended her lecture which was part of UVA’s bicentennial celebrations. In fact, she signed my book for me. In recent years, UVA has hosted numerous authors who wrote about slavery and slave lives, and I am happy to report that this is the 3rd lecture and book signing I’ve been to. The picture of true history just keeps getting clearer and clearer with the lens of these books that I’ve read. This book holds invaluable insight into the daily life of enslaved cooks. It sheds light and greater understanding unto the other books I’ve read on the topic. A must-read for any Virginian, such as I, who believes all Virginians should have an above-average command of historical knowledge.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne

    A thoughtful look at the role of enslaved people in the creation of Southern cooking and hospitality. The role of African Americans in establishing the quality and standards of sumptuous dining is examined here in a well-informed book. Very interesting for anyone wanting to understand why the image of Black people as revered domestics still lingers in American consciousness. Well-written and clearly organized. I do wish there had been more examples of specific recipes that are of Afro-American o A thoughtful look at the role of enslaved people in the creation of Southern cooking and hospitality. The role of African Americans in establishing the quality and standards of sumptuous dining is examined here in a well-informed book. Very interesting for anyone wanting to understand why the image of Black people as revered domestics still lingers in American consciousness. Well-written and clearly organized. I do wish there had been more examples of specific recipes that are of Afro-American origin, but perhaps that could be the author's next book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Worthwhile read, both for those in the field and general interest. I wish this slim volume had been available when I was working on eighteenth century scullery research in the Chesapeake. I do think it repeats information that has been heard before, but it also brings a lot together, which is necessary. Some great resources to be had in the notes and bibliography.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    A fascinating discussion of how enslaved Africans influenced the development of Southern cooking and the foodways of America in a larger sense, as well as the culture of "hospitality." At times one wishes the author gave more examples and went further into the impact she all too often just hints at. But overall, an interesting read, not too long, that leaves one with some ideas to contemplate. A fascinating discussion of how enslaved Africans influenced the development of Southern cooking and the foodways of America in a larger sense, as well as the culture of "hospitality." At times one wishes the author gave more examples and went further into the impact she all too often just hints at. But overall, an interesting read, not too long, that leaves one with some ideas to contemplate.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Withycombe

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. I learned some very important things (which I didn't know) but the author desperately needed a better editor. The book was startling in its redundancy. Some paragraphs could have been footnotes, yet seemed to be used to lengthen the manuscript. This is a fine feature article for a magazine but it was not meant to be a book. I wanted to like this book more than I did. I learned some very important things (which I didn't know) but the author desperately needed a better editor. The book was startling in its redundancy. Some paragraphs could have been footnotes, yet seemed to be used to lengthen the manuscript. This is a fine feature article for a magazine but it was not meant to be a book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Short but enlightening look at how enslaved people were integral to establishing plantation culture in the south, and how their efforts in the kitchen established what we think of as southern cuisine now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Elder

    I really thought it would have recipes. I was disappointed in that but not disappointed in the history. Very well researched. I would have liked a recipe or two though.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brittani Lenz

    Decent but content didn't live up to the excitement of the title. Decent but content didn't live up to the excitement of the title.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hadyn

    One of the best books I read this year. Concise but informative.

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