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History Of Colonial Cooking


Colonial cooking varied by class level as to what was served, but no matter what was served food was an important part of the culture. Dinner conversations sometimes lasted well into the night. Fresh food could only be served in season. Sometimes food could be saved by smoking or curing. If a family wanted a chicken, they went out in the morning killed it and cooked it eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner before it could spoil. Cooking required using a wood fire. Individuals had to know how to manage the fire. Animal organs were considered to be delicacies. Fruits and vegetables were never served raw. Drinks were made especially sweet. Punches had lots of alcohol in them. Meat dishes often came to the table with head and feet still attached. Rolls were used to sop up sauces and gravies from the plate. Almost everyone knew how to cook black, white, men, women, rich or poor food was that important to the culture.

The governor’s place offered the finest in colonial cooking. Their cooks were professionally trained European cooks. They were called principal cooks and were the highest paid servants. These cooks had trained apprenticeships in Europe and were the most skilled cooks in the colonies. They often kept quite a few cooks on a time for all the specialties. The cuisine for the governor had French influences. The governor boasted the best kitchen, which had numerous copper pots, a spit jack, and an eight day clock.

The gentry offered the next best in colonial cooking. This class had meats and sweets with every meal cooked in a more traditional English fashion. The gentry had slave cooks who were less formally trained, but none the less still quite skilled. These cooks were expensive and extremely precious. Some slaves became so skilled they earned their freedom as a result of their cooking prowess.

The middle class offered the basics in colonial cooking. Although this class tried to match the food offered by the gentry class on special occasions. The upper middle class could still afforded the slaves to do the cooking. The lower middle class relied on the talent of the mistress of the house.

The lower class offered the most basic in colonial cooking. These meals were one pot meals, because the cooking equipment was limited to one cast iron pot. The wife prepared soups and porridges. The most common was hominy, which is made from corn, added to it salt cured pork and vegetables. This was complemented with whatever meats and vegetables they could get.

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