Like so many others, the women of my family both formed and strengthened my family’s foundation. Their resilience was born of the times in which they lived. From the end of the Civil War, Jim Crow, The Sinking of the Titanic, World War I, The Spanish Flu of 1918, The Great Depression, through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Civil Rights Movement.
As wives, they supported their husbands through the good times and bad. As mothers, they raised and instilled strength, integrity, and pride in their children, who learned that to work hard was to be blessed. Although many lived through the time when women, especially black women, had very few options, no rights, and even less money, they persevered. These wonderful women worked in the fields, kitchens, factories and took sewing in to make ends meet. Their homes were clean, the children respectable, and the meals were so good, they ate better than royalty on mere pennies.
Their recipes are treasures and the stories behind them are priceless. A Depression widow with seven children and one on the way raises all eight with not one empty mouth. There’s the farmer’s wife who is also a midwife, who helped deliver babies all throughout her South Carolina county. Then comes home and is able to use livestock crops to make a vegetable dish as delicious ratatouille from France. A grandmother bakes a Victoria sponge to make a light as air jelly-roll cake. These are the women of my family, and this is their legacy. It is my hope readers will discover their family’s legacy through food.