Frederick Douglass spent much of the assigned chapters talking about his dynamic with old mistresses and new mistresses and the contrast between them. Mrs. Lucretia instructed young child Frederick to clean himself and make sure he is perfectly presentable to the future masters and mistresses he was to meet in Baltimore. He was taught to never look mistresses in the face and crouch in servility before them. Upon seeing his new mistress Mrs. Auld, Frederick saw kindness and heaven in her. His crouching disturbed Mrs. Auld rather than put her at ease. He looked her in the face and she did not punish him. His life as a “city slave” was closer to that of a free man than that of a “country slave”. The lives of the women across the street were entirely different. Frederick considered Mary and Henrietta to be the most abused people he had ever known. Mrs. Hamilton, their mistress, covered their entire shoulders and scalps with sores and lashes.

Intersectionality is an important and overlooked concept with regards to civil rights. In order for Frederick Douglass to advance the 15th amendment, he felt required to remove women from it to make the amendment more likely to pass. Black women were still denied much of what Frederick fought to give his people. Being oppressed as a black woman was different from being oppressed as a black man. Frederick was treated much better than his female counterparts in Baltimore

The preface of the chapters talked about how Frederick Douglass worked with the women’s rights movement throughout his life until the very day he died. Before the Frederick Douglass reading, I knew nothing of his feminist streak. All I really knew of him was that he ran away from slavery and spoke up about it with the Republicans. Never before had I heard he attended the women’s rights rallies. He died speaking at one. Reading the chapters in a feminist lense, I am able to see how he focuses on how women interact with their surroundings. He deeply personifies them while leaving his male owners more ambiguously personified. Through this subtle writing, Frederick is able to shift his focus towards women while not blatantly stating his suffrage opinions that he feared drowned out his work towards the 15th amendment. Frederick cleverly eases his readers to take on women’s perspectives so as to help ease the readers into slightly more feminist view points.


Fredrick Douglass is no doubt the most important African American leader in the 19th century. He rose from extreme poverty and slavery to become one of the country’s most respected intellectuals and human right’s activists. During this time as an enslaved worker, Fredrick Douglass began to learn to read and write from any source possible. His first teacher was his mistress, but later begins to continue his education by trading “breads.” I found this part of Douglass’ biography interesting as he exchanged food for an education. “The bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge. Douglass later admitted that he would restrain from naming these young and poor children because they would be embarrassed by others for teaching an African American. Even though he was considered “better well off” in the standards of living due to his availability of food, he was able to exploit the poverty of Caucasian children who were educated. As a slave, food was less important to him than education, because an education was his way to freedom.

The passage that struck out to me was on page 1194 when Douglass talks about the “mush” and how the children would come “like pigs” to devour the mush. He also mentions that “he who ate the fastest got the most” to show that the act of eating had been stripped from what we know today and was merely a race to eat as much as possible to survive. Eating for Douglass at that point in time was very different from what we consider eating now; we can take our time with eating our food and order for each person whereas he would have to fight his way to eat as much mush as he could otherwise he would starve to death.

It’s also an interesting passage because it seems like the slaver owners are almost “training” these children to react to this method of eating; putting food on the ground and calling them out reminds me of the Pavlov experiment of classical conditioning where the researchers were able to successfully train the dog to salivate after hearing the whistle since the whistle meant that food was coming (even if it actually wasn’t). I guess from an ethical perspective, I would be curious to know if these children realized what was going on or if they considered this normal because they were born into this situation and trained to react this way. It’s clear from this passage and how Douglass wrote this (using words like pigs and devour to describe the situation) that looking back, Douglass does realize how savage this act was but there’s no indication of what his actions were when it was happening to him. He also doesn’t talk much about how long this went on (from his early childhood until he left or just for a few years in his childhood) or any mentions of the slave parents and how they reacted to this.

After reading the Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave the part that I found most intriguing was when Douglass talks about how he learned how to read. Douglass goes on to explain that he began to make friends with white boys that he would meet in the streets. In exchange for the boys teaching him to read he would give them bread that he had taken from his house. Douglass ends his story about how he learned to read by saying “This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry urchins, who, in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge.” (Douglass 1199) One thing that really stood out to me about his story was that he was willing to trade away food, the key to surviving, for knowledge. One would think that most slaves would hold on to all the food they could get seeing as they were normally underfed, but not Douglass, he was more concerned with learning to read than he was about eating. When Douglass says that the “bread of knowledge” was more valuable than actual bread shows how important education and knowledge was to him. I found it interesting that Douglass uses the phrase “bread of knowledge”, to me,  he is implying that like bread is necessary for survival, to him, so is knowledge. This also shows that Douglass believed that knowledge was more important to survival than eating.

Throughout chapters 5 – 10 in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Douglass describes his hard life as a slave. Despite the slave’s situation of hunger and mistreatment, even the slave owner believed that “Not to give a slave enough, to eat is regarded as the most aggravated development of meanness even among the slaveholders” (Douglass 54). The slave holders did not want to seem like they were ruthless and cruel in the public light. However, this did not stop them from giving too little food to their slaves as there is no such thing as a benevolent slave owner. One of the ways Douglass describes the mistreatment of slaves by lack of food is through the use of a metaphor comparing slaves to animals.

One passage that stood out to me was when Douglass compares the hungry slave children to pigs. “Our food was coarse corn meal boiled. This is called mush. It was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and then set down upon the ground. The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they would come and devour the mush…none with spoons” (Douglass 36). Like animals, the food that the slaves eat is coarse and plain, nothing fancy or complicated. However, what really develops the metaphor of the children as pigs is the way that the food is served and the manner in which the children eat. Not only does Douglass use the word “trough” to describe the dish used to serve food to the children but also the children eat not like people but like animals, ravenously, without silverware and on the floor. The food was placed on the ground just as one would do to feed his or her pet. Notably, in a later chapter (chapter 8) Douglass explicitly states that slaves were of the same class as animals in the sentence, “Men and women…were ranked with horses, sheep, and swine” (Douglass 49).

I happened across this interesting article on an actual food blog, of all places! I found it ironic that the post itself was presented in a food blogging type format, with an enticing cover picture followed by a bit of an introduction to the article by the author, then the actual Top 20 tips for food blogging. I couldn’t help but notice that most of the “tips” seemed to fall into one of two categories: either “Common Sense/Personal Touches” or “Business Sense”. The Common Sense tips all felt kind of obvious and self-explanatory to me. Do I really need this Food Blogger telling me not to be fake, make friends, and “do what my mama told me”? However, the more I thought about it, I realized that the average food blog post includes steps that might seem basic to some, such as instructing the reader how to tell if a pot of water is boiling, or instructions on determining the ripeness of fruits and vegetables. So ultimately, I can’t blame the author for covering all her bases and including advice of a more personal than a technical nature, because it is just a part of her job. I thought several of the Business Sense tips were pretty informative/interesting. Search engine optimization, and acquiring a domain name are true insider tips that many rookie and even a few veteran food bloggers would potentially benefit from knowing about. As the author states in her introduction, “Food blogging is hard work” and until I read through and contemplated this article, I hadn’t considered just how technically challenging it truly could be.

After reading “A Culinary Declaration of Independent” by McWilliams, something stood out to me. The author kept making references to how Americans tended their land and its effect on their ideology. The concept sounded familiar, and for a very good reason. As it appears Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Outliers, The Story of Success,” discusses how Asian rice farming influenced our modern global achievement gap such that Asians outperform everyone else on mathematics. After re-reading the chapter on this topic, it was clear that Gladwell is making a connection similar to that of McWilliams; the method of food production of older generations influences the values and abilities of later generations. This transition can occur for various reasons, from epigenics to cultural anecdotes; yet regardless of why and how it occurs, the transition is observable. The question is how did the way colonists provide food for themselves, influence the way we function today?

One very easy to see example is the American Dream. As per McWilliams, “America was a place where white people could cultivate their own garden and live a better life that they would have back home for the simple reason that they owned good land and had the fortitude to make it yield a profit.… an American dream.” This definition certainly has changed, but the “Dream” is still intact for many. Thousands of people move to the US for the prospects of a better life, because the conditions are better suited for such a dream to be achieved. Although these conditions no longer rely on working hard to make a farm and be sustainable, it can be viewed in terms of economics and businesses. For example, the US ranked in the top 10 for the Global Ease of Doing Business index. To add on to this possibility, we place high value in startups, especially those in fields. And this is also historically relevant as McWilliams provides a lengthy discussion of the importance of and value of “the frontier”.  Just starting a new business is viewed as heroic and held up as an example of the American Dream and the Freedom in America, so was the frontier a place where farmers were free from British influence and tamed the untamed land.

It is quite fascinating how such simple everyday events of the past could go so far as to represent that value of the future. Of course the method of production may not necessarily be the only source of these grand values from politics to focus of our lives, authors such as McWilliams and Gladwell support the idea. If this is in fact true and influential to the future, there may be some frightening questions and implications. For example our focus on simplicity and hard work, once a staple of survival off of farming and a virtue for colonists, has forged a culture of necessary conveniences and a time poor culture in the US. Yes, we all work hard to achieve our goals; but we pay for it by giving up our connection with our food supply (a topic discussed by Pollen) and consume more and more premade and convenient forms of food. I am filled with fear and wonder for the future by this fact. How will our current modes of life, influence the lives and values of the future?

I remember learning about Phillis Wheatley in elementary school, and then again in APUSH and noting that she seemed to be one of those people who got along well with everyone- other freemen and women, slaves, and founding fathers alike. Revisiting her through reading her poetry only strengthened my original perception that Wheatley was largely a people pleaser, however not in an insincere manner. Given the time period and her social standing, I don’t think that she had a choice.

Depending on her intended audience, Wheatley portrays her departure from Africa differently in two of her poems. In  “On Being Brought from Africa to America”, she characterizes her homeland as “pagan” and compares her fellow countryman to the Biblical first murderer, Cain. She clearly states her intended audience as “Christians” and reminds them that “negroes” may become Christians too, which somehow seems to imply that they are inherently inferior to the “Christians” for which the poem is intended. She uses her position as a “refin’d negro” to advocate on behalf of her race who she characterizes as religiously ignorant, while simultaneously expressing gratitude for being delivered from her own ignorance through coming to America.

However, in “To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth” Wheatley shares a different side of her story. She tells the Earl about how she was “snatch’d from Afric’s fancy’d happy seat” by “seeming cruel fate” and “what sorrow’s labour” in her parent’s breasts. She shares her story from this perspective to validate her credibility on such popular (then) current events as Freedom and Liberty.

I think these two separate accounts of the same event show Wheatley’s cleverness as well as her political aptitude. She intentionally tailors her life story with a particular audience in mind and it is this adaptability that afforded her what respect she could receive as a women of color in the early Americas and ensured that generations of her fellow American women would know her name.

How To Make a Family Cookbook from Let's Get Together-includes a great GIVEAWAY for printing your book! #cookbook #gifting:

As we were finishing our aside on cookbooks, I came across this pin on Pinterest. The first cookbooks were just a written compilation of recipes and knowledge that had been passed down through families and cultures. Many of the cookbooks we looked at in class emphasized the legitimacy of their accreditation by identifying as an American as well as being a part of a family tradition. All food culture and knowledge must be learned from somewhere. In modern day, most families have a folder or file of recipes mostly written on note cards. Grandmothers and mothers are still passing down their classic, traditional recipes through their families. The website this pin links to allows for people to take the collection of note cards and lessons taught by Grandma and to create their own cookbook using templates as well as being able to customize each page. The cookbooks we analyzed in class mostly presented the recipes in a block without much structure. Because of the mass amounts of media dedicated to exploring and sharing recipes, the structure of recipes has become more standard making it easier to read. However, there are still different ways to present recipes that can capture the original intent of the tradition contained within recipe note cards and oral tradition.

I recently stumbled across this article on the Smithsonian website:( ) and was shocked to discover how perfectly it lines up with our current “Consider the Cookbook” unit in class. A food journalist named Toni Tipton-Martin has written a new book called “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks” that takes a close look at how cookbooks by African Americans, for African Americans (and others as well) have changed and evolved during the past two hundred years. She specifically cites Malinda Russell as a sort of “jumping off point” for African American cookbooks and claims that of all the cookbooks she studied and compiled into her book, Russell’s was the most impactful. Tipton-Martin stresses that a traditionally major part of African-American cooking was using whatever was on hand to feed families as well as communities, if the need arose. I think that this historical and cultural aspect of cooking has forgotten its roots a bit and become largely generalized as “Southern cooking”.  As a native Georgian with parents whose cooking skills tend more towards the northern and midwestern parts of the country, I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks to making good, authentic, “Southern food”, but more importantly, the reasons WHY preparing a dish a certain way classifies it as “southern” as opposed to some other regional cuisine. I have several cookbooks in my collection that claim to be composed of “tried and true Southern” recipes, when in actuality a good deal of them seem to be simply stereotypes of “Southern food.” Yes, fried chicken made with a cornflake coating is what is considered “southern” but it’s the reasoning behind the usage of ingredients and preparation methods that I find to be lacking. I think Tipton-Martin’s book seems to have a bit more of the history that I’m looking for, and perhaps I’ll browse through a copy next time I find myself curious about the backstory behind shrimp and grits.