Historical Notes on Montgomery County Foodways

I’ve been working on a cookbook titled Bread & Beauty, A Year in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. Along with interviewing farmers and agricultural advocates, attending events, and developing recipes based on Ag Reserve produce, I’ve had the great pleasure of researching in the Library of Congress. I’ve found some interesting bits of Montgomery’s food history, some of which is not appropriate for the book, but is too good to leave in the stacks.

From A Grateful Remembrance, the Story of Montgomery County, Maryland, Ray Eldon Hiebert and Richard K. MacMaster, 1976

In the mid-1800s, the County’s population was often ideologically and economically divided—urban/rural, conservative/liberal, tobacco growers/farmers. Slavery was another division. In 1860, slaves made up one third of the County’s population.

Josiah Henson became famous as the model for Uncle Tom in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He was owned by Isaac Riley and held on land just off of Old Georgetown Road. In one of his three memoirs, Henson described his life. The “principal food of those upon my master’s plantation consisted of cornmeal, and salt herrings to which was added in summer a little buttermilk, and the few vegetables which each might raise for himself and his family, on the little piece of ground which was assigned to him for the purpose, called a truckpatch.”

About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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