Stolen Bodies, Edible Memories

The influence and function of West African foodways in the early British Atlantic

Authored by: Kelley Fanto Deetz

The Routledge History of Food

Print publication date:  October  2014
Online publication date:  October  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415628471
eBook ISBN: 9781315753454
Adobe ISBN: 9781317621133


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Before sunrise on a hot summer day, Sukey Hamilton, the governor’s enslaved cook, began melting butter for the day’s meals. This task, while seemingly simple, required constant attention and a delicate hand. Hamilton had likely been taught the following technique:

Nothing is more simple than this process, and nothing so generally done badly. Keep a quart tin sauce-pan, with a cover to it, exclusively for this purpose; weigh one quarter of a pound of good butter; rub into it two tea-spoonfuls of flour; when well mixed put it in the sauce-pan with one table-spoonful of water, and a little salt; cover it, and set the sauce-pan in a larger one of boiling water; shake it constantly till completely melted, and beginning to boil. If the pan containing the butter be set on coals, it will oil the butter and spoil it. This quantity is sufficient for one sauce-boat. A great variety of delicious sauces can be made, by adding different herbs to melted butter, all of which are excellent to eat with fish, poultry or boiled butchers’ meat. To begin with parsley-wash a large bunch very clean, pick the leaves from the stems carefully, boil them ten minutes in salt and water, drain them perfectly dry, mince them exceedingly fine, and stir then in the butter when it begins to melt. When herbs are added to butter, you must put two spoonfuls of water instead of one. Chervil, young fennel, burnet, tarragon, and cress, or peppergrass, may all be used, and must be prepared in the same manner as the parsley. 1

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