When the slaves were being transported to the new world they brought with them native African foods to eat along the journey. They also brought with them many customs and cooking techniques that were not yet used in the Americas. The introduction of these crops proved to be a major influence in what we now called Southern cuisine or soul food.
Rice is the major staple of slave cuisine. It is said that the rice originally came from seeds directly imported from Madagascar in 1685. Africans were familiar with the growing and cultivating of rice and taught their “owners” how to grow it as well. The rice fields were cultivated on tidal swamp lands along coastal rivers. Slaves cleared these low-lying land and build canals, dikes and small floodgates that allowed the flooding and drainage of the fields.
Peanuts were originally from South America, but made their way to Africa via trade then eventually made their way to America on the slave ships. Slaves used peanuts in several different ways including making peanut pie and peanut soup. They also used to boil the peanuts in salt and spices and eaten soggy, this was a great source of nutrition. This dish is still widely consumed today. The use of the peanut was not limited to just the slaves; in fact George Washington Carver researched this product in depth. He discovered over 300 possible uses for the peanut including Jersey Milk, instant coffee, flour, synthetic rubber and linoleum. It was also discovered that rubbing peanut oil on aching muscles will help them rejuvenate more quickly.
Okra was another staple crop grown and consumed mostly by slaves at first but then made it’s way, as many other foods, into the white man’s diet. Okra or gumbo as it’s called in Africa made its way to America via the transatlantic slave trade in the 1600s. The most popular dish that is made from Okra...