Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and collared greens: these comforting classics are what instantly come to mind at the mention of 'Southern food.' However, historian Michael Twitty is on a mission to teach people the authentic culinary history of the south and the role slaves played in that history.
As NPR reports, Twitty recently held a historic cooking demonstration at Monticello, the famed estate of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia, where many slaves worked and lived. Preparing an authentic meal of grilled rabbit, hominy, and okra soup using 18th century tools and ingredients, Twitty explained to the audience not only the proper technique for preparing the animal, but the history tied to the dishes.
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"It's really been in the past few years that people come here and they say, 'Wow—what did the slaves eat? Did they grow their own produce? Did Jefferson give them food?" Monticello historian Christa Dierkshede says of the inspiration behind incorporating the informative classes. Twitty, a writer and historian who documents his culinary creations and experiences via his acclaimed blog, Afroculinaria, saw a unique opportunity to show audiences a side of the region's food that isn't white-washed.