1st Edition

Congotay! Congotay! A Global History of Caribbean Food

By Candice Goucher Copyright 2014
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    264 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Since 1492, the distinct cultures, peoples, and languages of four continents have met in the Caribbean and intermingled in wave after wave of post-Columbian encounters, with foods and their styles of preparation being among the most consumable of the converging cultural elements.

    This book traces the pathways of migrants and travellers and the mixing of their cultures in the Caribbean from the Atlantic slave trade to the modern tourism economy. As an object of cultural exchange and global trade, food offers an intriguing window into this world. The many topics covered in the book include foodways, Atlantic history, the slave trade, the importance of sugar, the place of food in African-derived religion, resistance, sexuality and the Caribbean kitchen, contemporary Caribbean identity, and the politics of the new globalisation. The author draws on archival sources and European written descriptions to reconstruct African foodways in the diaspora and places them in the context of archaeology and oral traditions, performance arts, ritual, proverbs, folktales, and the children's song game "Congotay." Enriching the presentation are sixteen recipes located in special boxes throughout the book.

    List of Illustrations and Map
    List of Recipes

    Introduction: The Creole Continuum of Foodways
    Creole Culture in the Caribbean Crucible
    Creole Cuisine
    A Global Historical Narrative

    1. Gastronomic Voyages: Magical Foods of the Atlantic World Gastronomic Voyages In the Wake of Columbus Fishing African Shores Sailing with Salted Cod African Salt Production Caribbean Salt Production Maritime Encounters The First Voyagers: Indigenous Cuisines Fishing the Prehistoric Caribbean Early European Chroniclers Magical Fruits of Paradise
    Cooking with Salt Cod Portuguese Bacalhau Caribbean Salt Fish Pepper Pots
    Along the Creole Continuum
    Preserving Food and Flavor Jerked Meats Marinades Tasting Modernity

    2. From African Kitchens: Food and the Atlantic Slave Trade
    The Transatlantic Slave Trade
    African Foodways Remembered Early Food Production in Africa Trading Foods and Beliefs Foods Making Meanings
    African-European Coastal Encounters Culinary Exchanges The Cook Who Would Be King Slavery, Food, and Hunger
    Foods of the Middle Passage
    Saltwater Slaves and Cannibals
    Domination and Resistance
    Foodways of the African Homeland Arrive in the Caribbean Anancy the Spider-Cook One Day, One Day, Congotay The Enslaved African's Kitchen Rice and Provisions Coconuts, Corn, "and Plantains Make It Good" Excavating African Continuities
    Meals in the Great House
    Taverns, Punch Houses, and Garrisons
    The African-Caribbean Continuum

    3. Devil-King Sugar: Hierarchies of Caribbean Foodways
    Devil-King Sugar
    Sugar's History
    Expanding Caribbean Sugar Production Copper Cauldrons Sugar and Labor Sugar and Caribbean Cultural Innovations Cannes Brulees: Performing the History of Sugar Cooking with Sugar Indentured Labor: Asian Contributions to Caribbean Culture and Cuisine Transporting Cuisines Ancient Foodways, New Borrowings Finding East Indian Identity Chinese Immigration Caribbean Curry and Roti
    Gifts of Sugar
    Drinking Sugar Distilled Spirits Kill-Devil Hot and Cold Spiced Drinks Sugar and the Caribbean Body

    4. From Poisoned Roots: Feeding Power and Resistance
    Food as Domination and Resistance Poisons and Power Obeah and War: Planting Resistance The Marketplace
    Feeding the Ancestors and Spirits African Food Practices and Beliefs Gourmet Gods Fasting and Feasting: Christmas and Other Holidays I-tal Foods of the Rastafarians Asian-Caribbean Religious Foods Hidden at the Hearth

    5. For the Love of Food: Sexuality and the Caribbean Kitchen
    Food and Family in the Caribbean
    Gender and the Caribbean Kitchen Demography and Gender Binary Divides Gendered Space Gendered Transmission of Knowledge Liming Food and Procreation Aphrodisiacs Callaloo Potent Food and Drink Cooking Transgressions
    Dangerous Cooking, Dangerous Foods
    Dangerous Dining
    The Silence and Sounds of Food
    Global Food Fusion in Caribbean History

    6. Caribbean Hunger: Food, Politics, and Globalization
    Feasts and Famines Harvest Feasts Funerary Foods Women and Proverbial Hunger Globalization and Food Culinary Travels Medicine and Botanical Science Ice Apples and Banana Boats Caribbean Tourism Caribbean Cookbooks
    Urban Cauldrons Caribbean Fast Food Postcolonial Government Interventions Scarcity and Hunger Changing Ecologies Taking Back the Land Food Memories and Globalization
    A Conclusion in Which Anancy Makes Dinner

    About the Author


    Candace Goucher is Professor of History at Washington State University, Vancouver. She also serves on the staff of the Center for Columbia River History.

    *** Winner of the Gourmand World Award for best book on Caribbean cuisine and culture 2015 ***

    "This excellent book introduces Caribbean history to world historians in a truly delightful way. Using food as a way into a multitude of world historical processes, from enslavement to resistance, from sexuality to globalization, Candice Goucher expertly cooks up the perfect regional history of Caribbean social life. Replete with modern and historical recipes, this book ought to be required reading for anyone with an interest in either the Caribbean or in food (and the recipes are simple too!)." -- Alan Karras, University of California, Berkeley

    "This richly textured and lively written volume offers profound insights into the significance of food in world history and human experience, making me hungry for Caribbean food." -- Yong Chen, University of California, Irvine

    "As a world historian I appreciate her attention to cultural detail on both sides of the Atlantic, and her elegant embrace of the histories of women and ordinary people as active participants in the construction of regionalized and global identities through the production and consumption of food. As a Latin American historian I appreciate her success in communicating the key notions of cultural interaction and blending to the world historical community. Finally, as a chef I appreciate the historical recipes and stories that lay behind that most basic of human activities: cooking and eating." -- Rick Warner, Wabash College

    "Candice Goucher brings us a fascinating and compelling read. The scope of her work borders on remarkable. Beginning long before the middle passage, she peels back the layers and the cross-hatchings of cultures that created the foods of West African peoples. But the Caribbean is her focus and her story is not one we've heard before. ... Read Congotay! Congotay! for the sheer pleasure of discovery." -- Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Host, The Splendid Table from American Public Media

    "Lyrically written and thoroughly engrossing, Congotay! Congotay! convincingly places foodways at the center of conversations about language, material culture and gender. By intertwining her own extensive research with a masterful synthesis of current scholarship on African disaporic cultural exchanges and globalization, Goucher delivers a significant global story in this marvelous history of Caribbean households." -- Laura Mitchell, University of California, Irvine

    "Goucher provides a comprehensive history of Caribbean food in this slim volume. This is the first book about Caribbean cuisine focusing on the peoples of multiple countries who met on these islands and intermingled through forced circumstance. Not only does Goucher cover the major ingredients and dishes, she also addresses the effects of the cod fishing industry, slavery, the sugar industry, and Chinese and Indian immigration on the establishment of this multicultural cuisine. The book's strength is the author's use of primary sources to reconstruct African foodways in the Caribbean and their manifestations in storytelling, music, folklore, and children's games. Historians, anthropologists, and culinarians will appreciate this book. Highly recommended. All academic, professional, and general collections." -- Choice

    "Food is obviously the focus of this book, and Goucher's enthusiasm for the subject flows through every page. Recipes for everything from pepper-pots to mojitos are included, as are more general descriptions of countless additional foods. But her use of food as an entry point to crucial themes like imperialism, slavery, migration, gender, sexuality, resistance, and globalization is extremely significant. Her knowledge of the scholarly debates on these subjects is impressive, and she makes a number of important contributions." -- Dave Eaton, Grand Valley State University

    "In Congotay! Congotay! the subject matter is treated respectfully and honestly. It is an anthropological history that manages to avoid an overtly anthropological gaze. The book weaves socio-historical complexities of race, ethnicity, and class while managing to maintain its focus on the Caribbean and frankly the dominant African and Asian cultural and culinary influences. It is a welcome addition to foodways studies literature on Caribbean food, globalization, and colonialism and will be accessible and engaging for everyone from students to advanced researchers." -- Rachel Finn, Digest: a Journal of Foodways and Culture