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88 WBM april 2015 Ice was delivered from one of the three icehouses operating in downtown Wilmington. “They had everything,” Evans says. In her memoir, Back with the Tide, Ellen Bellamy describes dried and smoked Tom Thumb sausages, pickled oysters, freshly churned butter, fruits and vegetables “of every description” and scuppernong wine that was produced on the family’s plantation. Desserts like syllabub, a concoction of whipped cream and wine, were popular at the time but have since fallen out of favor. Sarah Miller, a slave from West Africa, cooked for the 11 Bellamys, their nine slaves and however many guests the Bellamy family might happen to be entertaining. “We’re not exactly sure the logistics of it,” Evans says. “Except that they had a big kitchen and they were rich.” Slave cooks had a great deal of influence over the types of foods eaten in the Antebellum South, an influence that extends to foods we still consider quintessentially Southern today. “I think they had an enormous impact,” Williams says. “Many of the techniques that we’ve come to think of as Southern food techniques came to us through the slaves of African decent.” She calls the mixing of rice with beans or peas in dishes such as Hoppin’ John “very African.” Likewise, Williams says frying, a cooking technique still widely used throughout the South, was probably introduced by slave cooks. At Poplar Grove, slave cooks “were probably given quite a lot of autonomy as to what was prepared,” Lewis says. Foods such as sweet potatoes were likely eaten by slaves first and later became a part of the Foy family’s diet as well. At the Bellamy Mansion, Evans said the family’s slaves likely ate some varia-tion of the meals eaten by the Bellamys themselves, since Miller was cooking for everyone. Meanwhile, plantation slaves were issued rations and prepared their own meals over outdoor open fires. savor — guide to food & dining on the azalea coast


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