Growing up in the Hill District section of the city of Pittsburgh, was so much fun. Some of my fondest memories are of my Mother Rosie Lee Payne, Grandmother Mable Payne and Aunt Tamuel Chandler cooking in the kitchen on Addison Street for my 6 sisters, two brothers and me. They were buzzing around the kitchen on Holidays Cooking Ham, Greens, Cornbread and chitlins. My sisters Virgina, Carol (Rinne) and Elizabeth (Lady) were helping as well. Days before leading up to cooking day were busy as well. Sweet Potatoes were chosen for pies, yams had to be the right color, or they were deemed not good. The younger children, such as myself, my twin Loretta, Whelimina and Rachel were ordered to stay out of the way and my brothers James and Allen had to do odd jobs around the house such as taking out the trash. There were three generations in the kitchen and one generation would teach the next. This scene played out so many times during my childhood.
In our neighborhood other families were doing the same on Sundays and Holidays. During summer months barbeque and corn on the cob was always on someone’s grill. For dessert, peach cobbler, rice pudding or red velvet cake were staples. As a young adult, I would call my Mother or Grandmother for cooking advice. Aunt Tam had passed away. They would tell me to put a pinch of this or a little of that in a recipe. They never ever measured anything. Not measuring ingredients has a long tradition dating back to slavery. They just knew how much pepper, salt and other spices to add. Yet, the food was delicious.
Our history of foods and cooking beginning from before slavery must not be lost to memory. So, I will blog often about history, customs and culture of Africans, people of the Caribbean and Americans.
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