I loved partnering with Jason Townsend&Sons, my favorite historic clothier and provider of historic goods to produce a few videos for their wildly popular You Tube series on cooking in the 18th century, depicting the influence of enslaved Africans and African Americans in early American cuisine. We prepared these dishes out at George Mason’s Gunston Hall Plantation in Mason Neck, Virginia. We prepared a simple okra soup based on early receipts including that of “Queen Molly,” herself, also known as Mary Randolph, author of the first Southern cookbook, The Virginia Housewife, and other recipes of the late 18th and early 19th century. For those who may not get an opportunity to see me do historic cooking live will certainly enjoy this. I will put up later videos which I will post to Afroculinaria, we will be demonstrating an early barbecue sauce and black eyed pea cakes!

Many thanks to Jas.Townsend&co for their generosity and kindness and for the wonderful videos they put together as well as my friends over at Gunston Hall. Many many thanks to all. If you like this post or the videos, feel free to share!

11 comments on “Watch “Food of the Enslaved: Okra Soup” on YouTube

  1. I shared this with the history and cooking teachers I know. Really, really interesting. I like okra, but it’s a hard sell in my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely post with great photography, Michael!


  3. this has some more expensive ingredients- cloves, smoked meats (I think that was expensive? please correct if wrong . . . ) Would this have been a meal cooked by enslaved people on a holiday for themselves? Or was this something they would have cooked for their “master’s” table? Or something else. THANK YOU for making this video!!


    • Enslaved folks who lived along the eastern seaboard, Gulf Coast or in cities pilfered, bought or bartered for spices and we know that the material condition of the enslaved was not necessarily tied to their legal status. Okra soup was a dish known in both communities but remember, recipes and formulas changed depending on where you were and who you were around.


      • Amanda Sanders

        Hi Michael! Is it possible for you to share your okra soup recipe that was recently featured on “high on the hog” or tell me where I can purchase the recipe?? Thank you so much! I sought you out after seeing you make this dish!


  4. Hi Chef Michael, I found out about you from this Youtube video (just saw the new one right now). I love this kind of stuff. I don’t show it on my blog here, but I’m a nut for food. My mum drummed the basics (well, there’s quite a lot, to be honest) of Indian food into my mind before I left for Uni, and I’ve always liked trying out new things.
    I don’t usually make Okra at home (well, if at all), but your advice about the okra is what my mum told me, and I was really happy to hear you say it (wasn’t honestly expecting it).
    Love your work, and I wish you good luck in your future ventures!


  5. That was a great video, I’m looking forward to making it for myself.

    I can’t wait for your book to come out, you gave a fantastic amount of information in 10 minutes and have a lot of really cool info to share!


  6. Hi, I love this video so much. I love the idea of historic cooking. Just wondering if this dish was only cooked in Virginia or if it was made in Louisiana, too? Also, would enslaved blacks from the 18th and 19th centuries use the same kind of pot?


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