Blackeyed peas were first brought to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade as food for slaves. They first arrived in Jamaica around 1675, spreading throughout the West Indies, and finally reaching Florida by 1700, North Carolina in 1738 and into Virginia by 1775. By the time of the American Revolution, blackeyed peas were firmly established in America and became one of the most popular food crops in the southern part of the United States.
Okra arrived in the New World during the transatlantic slave trade in the 1600s. Okra or gumbo, as it is called in Africa, found exceptional popularity in New Orleans. In French Louisiana, Creole cuisine and African cooking came together to produce the unique cuisine of New Orleans. Okra was commonly being used by the American white population before the Revolutionary War. Okra was popular among women to produce abortion, by lubricating the uterine passage with the slimy pods.
The first successful cultivation of rice in the United States was accomplished in the South Carolina Sea Islands by an African woman who later taught her planter how to cultivate rice. The first rice seeds were imported directly from the Island of Madagascar in 1685 and Africans supplied the labor and the technical expertise. African experts in rice cultivation were brought directly from the island of Goree to train Europeans how to cultivate this cash crop.
The house servants while learning from the planters also took African culinary taste into the Big House. African cooks introduced deep fat frying, a cooking technique that originated from Africa. Long before the days of refrigeration, Africans understood how deep fat frying of chicken or beef could preserve these foods for a time.
Using their indigenous crops enslaved Africans recreated traditional African cuisine. One such dish is fufu. In South Carolina this dish is called “turn meal and flour.” This meal is prepared by boiling water and adding flour while stirring the ingredients, hence the name “turn meal and flour.” Africans prepare fufu by mixing palm oil and flour. From these fufu mixtures, slaves made hoecake in the fields that later evolved into pancakes and hot water cornbread. Cornbread, prepared by African slaves, was similar to African millet bread.
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