Less Traveled

Page Ivey



A little 'Southern Discomfort' at Historic Brattonsville

Posted 9/5/2012 1:35:00 PM

We call it comfort food: pork, collard greens, peas and rice. It reminds us of our childhoods, our grandparents and family gatherings. But discovering the roots of those meals can often be an uncomfortable trip back to the days of slavery in the South, when many of our “comfort” foodways got their start.

Leaving our comfort zones to discover these roots and celebrate them is part of the driving force behind food historian Michael Twitty’s “Southern Discomfort Tour,” which makes a stop at South Carolina’s Historic Brattonsville on Saturday (Sept. 8).

Twitty has traced his family’s U.S. history to the South Carolina Upcountry as well as Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. His ancestry is black and white and he tries to marry those elements into his cooking and storytelling.

“Only a quarter of all Southern slaveholders had planter status (20 or more enslaved workers). With 20 or more able-bodied workers, you could live the life of a middling planter. When you had about 50-100 people, you were pretty rich, and with over 100, which only a select few could claim, you were unbelievably wealthy,” Twitty wrote on his blog at thecookinggene.com before the start of his tour this summer.

That makes his stop at the Bratton plantation a stop at one of the handful of unbelievably wealthy planters of the 19th century.

According to folks at Historic Brattonsville, the plantation was home to 139 enslaved men, women and children in 1843. Today, it is one of the few living history sites that also tell the stories of the African-Americans who lived, worked and died there.

Twitty will present special cooking demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the plantation kitchen. After that, Twitty will discuss his family’s own history.

Twitty’s appearance is part of the historic site’s annual “By the Sweat of Our Brows” program that examines the lives of African-Americans during and after slavery.

Other activities include a bus tour to Fishing Creek Presbyterian Church, which played an important role in the U.S. Revolution as well as African-American history, and performances of gospel music and inspirational dramas of life on the plantation.

The cost is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for children ages 4-17 and free for children three and younger and members of the Cultural & Heritage Museums of York County.