Jambalaya, Gumbo, and the Stews in Between by David Schmich

COURSE: History 401: Public History Workshop

MEDIUM: Website / Blog

A historical story-map uncovering the possible ethnic origins of the popular southern dishes jambalaya and gumbo. While tracking the movement and evolvement of African cuisine, my project sets out to illuminate how American cuisine was transformed and progressed by incorporating African cooking methods and ingredients despite the adversity that Africans and other non-white groups/individuals encountered in early America.

My project was very much heavily influenced by my love of food and cuisine. While my academic passions are centered around history and politics, this project allowed me to combine one of my favorite hobbies with my favorite academic subject. After completing and reflecting on the project I came to the conclusion that there are huge facets of human life that historians and other academic professionals seem to gloss over or even omit when teaching about certain subjects. Through the many hours reading and researching African cuisine, jambalaya, gumbo, and the African slave trade more generally I found that the most illuminating and exciting information was almost always about something that I could relate to in some way. Well, everyone knows and has their favorite food or type of food, making a project such as this an intriguing way to get someone more interested in a certain time period or history as a subject overall. Food history is an uncommon and lacking sector of academia overall, and committing more time and research into uncovering human eating habits may enforce the notion that we as humans are far less different from one another than many would think.

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