‘A Short History of the Cooking Pot: an Introduction to Caribbean Food and Storytelling’, York Festival of Ideas, June 10th 2017

We’re used to saying: ‘We are what we eat’ but what about ‘We are how we cook and talk about food’? In this event Dr Sarah Lawson Welsh, expert on Caribbean food and writing, explores how the use of a simple iron pot or ‘duchy’, originally introduced by the Dutch for use on slave ships and used by African slave populations in the Caribbean, gave rise to a richly varied culinary and oral storytelling tradition.

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Heavy black cast-iron post, cauldrons and skillets are a mainstay of African-derived cuisines across the globe, producing meals as diverse as Brazilian Acaraje, Nigerian Accra Fun Fun, Caribbean Pepperpot and African American Soul Food such as fried chicken, cornbread and collard greens; similarly the flat skillet-like tawa, used for making roti, is a mainstay of Indian foodways in the Caribbean.

Dr Lawson Welsh examines how from the very beginning, food and words, cooking and storytelling were intimately linked. She’ll show how Caribbean cooks and writers developed a unique philosophy of life which saw them through times of famine, feeding, feasting and fasting and which enabled them to define and re-affirm different cultural, ethnic, caste, class and gender identities by writing about what, when and how they cooked and ate.

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