Evans, Millie (story)
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
El Dorado District FOLKLORE SUBJECTS Name of Interviewer: Pernella Anderson Subjects: Customs related to Slavery Time [HW: Ex Slave Story] Subject: Food-Particular foods typical and characteristic of certain localities and certain people (negroes) [Nov 6 1936]
This information given by: Millie Evans (Negroes pronounce it Irvins) Place of Residence: By Missouri Pacific Track near MOP Shops Occupation: None Age: 87 [TR: Additional topic moved from subsequent page.] [TR: Personal information moved from bottom of interview.]
I wuz a young lady in the time of surrender. I am a slave chile. I am one of them. I had a gran' time in slavery time. I wuz born wid de white foks. I stayed wid mah muthah at night but mah mistress raised me. I nussed mah mutha's gran'chile. I churned and sot de table. When de baby go to sleep in de evenin' I put hit in de cradle. An' I'd lay down by the cradle and go to sleep. Every evenin' I'd go git lida knots. I played a lots. I wuz born 1849. We played Susanna Gals, and we just played jump rope. Jes' we gals did. We played calling' cows. Dey'd come to us and we run from um. My [TR: 'I' corrected to 'My'] mistess wuz a millionaire. I went to school a while. I can count only lit bit. One uz de girl made fun uz me. She kotch me nodding and we fit dare in de school house. Old log school house. Dey had two big rooms. Ah went to de ole fokes' church. Young un too. We'd cry if we didn't git ter go ter church wid ma and pa.
Our table was sot under a china berry tree and ooo-eee chile I can see hit now. We et on a loal (oil) table cloth. When dey called us to de table dey would ring a bell. We didn' eat out uz plates. We et outn gourds. We all et outn gourds. When I got big nuff ter cook I cooked den. We had plenty to eat. We raised who-eee plenty meat. We raised our sugar, rice, peas, chikens, eggs, cows. Who-eee chile we had plenty to eat. Our mistess had ovah a hunert (100) niggers. Ole moster nevah did whip none uv us niggers. He tended de men and mistess always tended to us. I wudden (wasn't) quite grown when I wuz married. We cooked out in de yard an' on fireplaces too in dose big ubbens (ovens). We cooked greens in a wash pot jes like you boil clothes, dats de way we cook greens. We cooked ash cakes too an we cooked persimmon braid (bread). An evah thing we had wuz good too. We made our churns in dem days. Made dem outn cypress.
Evahbody cried when dem yankees cried out: "Free." We cried too; we hated hit so bad. We had such a good time. I is gittin so ole I can't member so ever' thin' I done. Now chile ah cain't member evah' thin' I done but in dem days we didn' have ter worry 'bout nothin'. Ole mistress wuz de one ter worry. Twasn't den like hit is now. No Twasn't. Tother niggers say dey had er hard time foe dem Yankee cried "Free" but it waz den jes like hit is now if you had a hard time we done hit ourselves.
[HW: Negro food]
PERSIMMON PIE Make a crust like you would any other pie crust and take your persimmons and wash them. Let them be good and ripe. Get the seed out of them. Don't cook them. Mash them and put cinnamon and spice in and butter. Sugar to taste. Then roll your dough and put in custard pan, and then add the filling, then put a top crust on it, sprinkle a little sugar on top and bake.
PERSIMMON CORNBREAD Sift meal and add your ingredients then your persimmons that have been washed and the seeds taken out and mash them and put in and stir well together. Grease pan well and pour in and bake. Eat with fresh meat.
PERSIMMON BEER Gather your persimmons, wash and put in a keg, cover well with water and add about two cups of meal to it and let sour about three days. That makes a nice drink.
Boil persimmons just as you do prunes now day and they will answer for the same purpose.
ASH CAKE Two cups of meal and one teaspoon of salt and just enough hot water to make it stick together. Roll out in pones and wrap in a corn shuck or collard leaves or paper. Lay on hot ashes and cover with hot ashes and let cook about ten minutes.
CORNBREAD JOHNNY CAKE Two cups of meal, one half cup of flour about a teaspoon of soda, one cup of syrup, one-half teaspoon salt, beat well. Add teaspoon of lard. Pour in greased pan and bake.
[HW: Water or Milk added?]
(Old Mistress wud give us this corn bread johnny cake about four o'clock in de evening and give us plenty of buttermilk to drink wid it. Dey had a long trough. Dey kep' hit so clean fur us. Ev'ry evening about four dey would fill de trough full uv milk and wus abut 100 of us chilluns. We'd all get round de trough and drink wid our mouth and hold our johnny cake in our han's. I can jes see mahself drinkin now. It wus so good.)
BEEF DUMPLINS Take the brough (meaning broth) from boiled beef and season with salt, peper and add you dumplins jus as you would chicken dumplins.
Pick and wash beet tops just as you would turnip greens and cook with meat to season. Season to suit taste. This makes the best vegetable dish.
POTATO BISCUIT Two cups flour. Two teaspoons of baking powder, pinch of soda, teaspoon of salt, tablespoon of lard, two cups of cooked, well mashed sweet potatoes and milk to make a nice dough.
IRISH POTATO PIE Boil potatoes, set off and let cool, then mash well and add one cup sugar, two eggs, butter size of an egg, milk, spice to suit taste, bake in pie crust. Irish potatoes make a better pie than sweet potatoes.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives