This weekend near Jacksonville, Florida I will be doing historic interpretation at Kingsley Plantation, a site that gives insight into the antebellum period in Florida, the Lowcountry’s culture and the curious marriage of Zephaniah Kingsley and a young Wolof girl he purchased “Anna” Madgigine Jai (Anta Madigeen N’diaye) would come to be the plantation mistress. Kingsley was a paradox…he traded enslaved people and owned them, and yet his plantation was a little Africa. They grew rice, indigo, cotton, and other crops common in West Africa on a plantation located in a subtropical densely forested wetland covered in drooping moss, palms, palmettos, and yucca. His enslaved workforce were allowed to practice their music, dance and religion and probably maintained much of their food culture. I’m here to recreate some of those dishes and to talk about the Senegambian, Igbo, and Kongo heritage of the people of this sacred place built on the lands of the Timucua people. Come out and see me!
On the menu:
- Florida Chicken Pilau (Perloo)
- Ceeb u Niebe–the root dish of Hoppin’ John and Jambalaya Au Congri–certainly known to Anta N’diaye…Cowpeas and Rice
- Joloff Rice–one of the national dishes of the Wolof people–the root of Southern “red rice,” or “Spanish rice.”
- Mafe or Domoda–Groundnut Soup (known to several historic Southern cookbooks including The Carolina Housewife
- If time permits, okra soup known as supakanja in contemporary Senegal and Gambia, and perhaps some fresh fish from the Fort George river to make ceeb u djen–one of that national dishes of the Senegalese.
- Zephaniah Kingsley Jr. Anna’s husband, a slave trader and planter–brought food plants from West Africa, Brazil and Cuba to his plantation which was worked by enslaved workers directly brought from West Africa and through Cuba.