their rations consisted of corn, bacon or salt pork, molasses, flour,
seasonal fruits and vegetables. With these few items a variety of wholesome
dishes were created. Black people learnt how to use everything ; nothing
was wasted. If the master ate the leg of pork, the slaves enjoyed a
succulent pigs foot, and the delicious innards of the pig, the
intestines, commonly known as chitlins (my favourite).
These dishes along with many others were passed down from generation
to generation. So too was the sheer pride in knowing how to live off
the land and the ability to hunt. Slaves werent allowed to bear
arms, so they developed the skills to hunt. If it moved they caught
it. Squirrels, racoons, rabbits, and an assortment of wild birds, chickens,
turkeys, ground hogs, and even the occasional bear. They would plant
the fields with whatever seeds were made available to them. They learnt
how to use what many people would regard as weeds, using the tops from
many root vegetables.
Now while all this creative cooking was happening, there was an awful
lot of singing and dancing going on. Mostly spiritual singing from the
soul, asking the Lord to set them free and give them the strength to
endure their entrapment. Although most of the music was gospel there
was also a lot of jiggin going on, with a jazzy and blues feeling
to their songs.
As the years went by this blues sound was evolved into what we now call
soul music. Music sung from the soul to accompany our food