African Americans in Food Service
Pullman porters and cooks-those emissaries of tradition and popular culture between diverse and far-flung black communities-not only organized themselves into one of the most effective transportation unions, but also prepared and served thousands of meals on a daily basis.
Food rationing during World War II and the campaign for Victory Gardens had an impact on African American consumption. Wartime agencies concerned with promoting economical and nutritious preparation of meals sent women agents across the country to families in an effort to reshape old patterns of food consumption. Production, preservation, and consumption of meals in different regions were documented by agency photographers.
In the fifties, suburban lifestyles and ideals championed new kinds of social gatherings. The casual backyard cook-out or barbeque and the cocktail party were all profiled in African American magazines such as Ebony and Jet. Modernization of kitchen appliances, electrification of cooking implements, and the evolution of processed foods caused significant changes in cooking and eating patterns. Ebony Magazine began featuring regular food columns, and food columnist Freda Deknight authored The Ebony Cookbook in 1969. The Historical Cookbook of the American Negro, by Sue Bailey Thurman, was published in 1958 by the National Council of Negro Women.
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