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Black History Month Celebrates Culture’s Culinary Contributions

February is Black History Month.

So what does that have to do with food? Perhaps more than you know. African-Americans have made significant contributions to the development of food and agricultural industries.

Although he is most famous for his work with peanuts, George Washington Carver also developed derivatives of sweet potatoes and pecans.

Norbert Rillieux, a New Orleans native, simplified the sugar refining process, transforming sugar from luxury item to common kitchen ingredient.

In the late 1930s, Frederick McKinley Jones invented the first practical refrigerator for long-haul trucks, trains and ships.

And Lloyd Augustus Hall revolutionized the meat packing industry in the first half of the 20th century with his improvements in processing and preserving meats. He also developed sterilization techniques for food and spices now used in everyday American cooking.

They are among the AfricanAmericans featured in “Living High on the Hog,” a recipe brochure produced by the National Pork Producers Council.

The brochure’s title refers to a post-Civil War phrase used to describe African-Americans who could afford to substitute pork cuts such as loin chops and ham for salt pork, fatback and other fatty but less expensive cuts.

It includes recipes for Lite ‘n Creamy Macaroni Casserole, Mixed Greens with Fresh Pork Hock, Jerk Pork Bites, Baked Grits Wedges and Slimmin’ Sweet Potato Tart.

The recipes were developed to highlight the lean qualities of “the other white meat.”

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