Virginia History 101: Foodways of the Enslaved

Leni Sorensen

Leni Sorensen

Regular listeners of our podcasts might know Rick Britton. He’s a historian and cartographer and a frequent guest on WINA’s Charlottesville Right Now with Coy Barefoot. Rick also designs and hosts Virginia history programs for the Charlottesville Senior Center.

In the fall of 2010, the Senior Center offered one of Rick’s programs entitled “Virginia History 101.” Running from October 7th through November 18th, this six-session lecture series was designed for those interested in Virginia’s fascinating early history. The series focused on some of the big topics that dominated the Old Dominion’s first two centuries, including, Native Virginians, Tobacco, Slavery, the Revolution, George Washington’s Presidency, and Jeffersonian Architecture. The series was followed with a travel session where participants experienced Virginia history first hand.

The lecture for October 21, 2010 was entitled “Foodways of the Enslaved.” It was presented by Leni Sorensen, Monticello’s African-American Research Historian, who besides her duties on Jefferson’s “little mountain,” also teaches rural life skills such as canning, butchering, and cookery. Following an introduction of the enslaved individuals laboring in Mr. Jefferson’s kitchens–at Monticello, in Paris, and at the White House–Sorensen delivered a fascinating talk on the surprisingly complicated, and fashionable, meals they prepared. Previously forgotten by history, these cooks and chefs were talented, amazingly literate, and oftentimes multi-lingual.

This is the third in a six part series for 2010.

Click here to listen to all six lectures in this series:

* December 2, 2010 – The Monacan Nation – Rick Britton
* December 9, 2010 – Tobacco, The First Cash Crop – Susan Kern
* December 16, 2010 – Foodways of the Enslaved – Leni Sorensen
* December 23, 2010 – The Yorktown Campaign – Ed Lengel
* December 30, 2010 – Washington’s Presidency – David Hoth
* January 6, 2011- Architecture in the Jeffersonian Period – Ed Lay