Primary Source Comparison - Times-Picayune Creole Cook book (New Orleans, LA.: 1901)

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Compare how Stowe describes Aunt Chloe's cooking activities at the plantation to home to how the Times-Picayune(New Orleans, LA.) describes the management of plantation kitchens in the introduction to this Creole cookbook (1901). Stowe and Times-Picayune's contrasting descriptions exemplify the mirror images of the South that often exist at this time and suggest the subtle ways Stowe challenges, or is at least ambivalent about, the "mammy" stereotype by emphasizing Aunt Chloe's cooking skill.


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“Time was when the question of a Creole Cook Book would have been, as far as New Orleans is concerned, as useless an addition to our local literature as it is now a necessity, for the Creole negro cooks of nearly two hundred years ago, carefully instructed and directed by their white Creole mistresses, who received their inheritance of gastronomic lore from France, where the art of good cooking first had birth, faithfully transmitted their knowledge to their progeny, and these, quick to appreciate and understand, and with keen intelligence and zeal born of their desire to please, improvised and improved upon these products of the cuisine of Louisiana's mother country [France]. . . ”

“But the civil war, with its vast upheavals of social conditions, wrought great changes in the household economy of New Orleans, as it did throughout the South; here , as everywhere, she who had ruled as the mistress of yesterday became her own cook of to-day; in nine cases out of ten the younger darkies accepted their freedom with alacrity, but in many ancient families the older Creole ‘négresse,’ as they were called, were slow to leave the haunts of the old cuisine and the families of which they felt themselves an integral part. Many lingered on, and the young girls who grew up after that period had opportunities that will never again come to Creole girls of New Orleans. For one of the most significant changes and one of the saddest, too, in this old city, is the passing of the faithful negro cooks—the ‘mammies,’ who felt it a pride and honor, even in poverty, to cling to the fortunes of their former masters and mistresses, and out of the scant family allowance to be still able to prepare for their ‘ole Miss’’ table a ragout from a piece of peck meat, or a ‘pot-au-poive’ from many mixtures that might grace the dining of a king.”

“But the ‘bandana and tignon’ are fast disappearing from our kitchens. Soon will the last of the olden negro cooks of ante-bellum days have passed away and their places will not be supplied, for in New Orleans, as in other cities of the South, there is ‘a new colored woman’ as well as a new white. The question of ‘a good cook’ is now becoming a very vexing problem, and the only remedy for this state of things is for the ladies of present day to do as their grandmothers did, acquaint themselves thoroughly with the art of cooking in all its important and minutest details, and learn how to properly apply them.”

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