In High on the Hog, the Jessica Harris often reference family cooking throughout the excerpt. Family food history doesn’t necessarily involve simply food passed down from one generation to another. Family food can have much deeper links than just involving a household itself. It can link to a wider range of people, even be a representation of a group of people. The areas involving food is a key heritage between the author’s heritage and a connection to her own family.

In the beginning the author would often reference her family cooking and her mother’s interest to the past involving slavery. This would lead into the work itself as she provides an overview of plantation living and lifestyle for the slaves. It goes from structuring in the earlier days to accounts given of their lifestyle. What is interesting is how the author doesn’t focus on a certain group of slaves, but that of various different areas and people. This overarching unification of food provides similar accounts in terms of types of food that was available and how a distinct style of cooking came to be. It also provides the read an understanding of how these slaves bonded and how similar they were as to imply a collective whole whilst still being having individualistic aspects.

The accounts provided by the author involves not only slaves, but those on the outside looking in. It showed a clear difference between the two different kind of peoples during the period, not just in the style of the accounts, but also a separation compared to the slave accounts. Throughout the piece those looking out to within give factual descriptions of what the slaves had to eat. While the narratives explain a much more personal response of what they had to deal with during the time period.

Even as the work is mostly a description piece of history, it also shows a connection to what the author considered important. Even separated into regions there grows a distinct culture of food that even with different ingredients showed a foundation that would change throughout a household. This food culture is harsh, but the people made it their own. It is tied to them in both history through family heritage and documents connecting various people and places together.

1 Comment

  1. Jeffrey Mcmichael

    I like the point you brought up about how food can tie together not only a household but also a wide range or group of people. I’ve seen this in my own life before, but gratefully not under the same circumstance as those who suffered in slavery. Having lived in Georgia for years I’ve become accustomed to the food here, but I moved to Ohio for a few years and saw various families and local people come together to eat Cincinnati-style chili and some of the local ice cream, for example. When you ate those foods it made you feel like you were a part of that history and it felt like you were a true “Cincinnatian”. Likewise when eating food with a heritage behind it you become more appreciative of that culture and people.

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