Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids This Month: Pepper Pot Soup

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According to the Foodtimeline “Pepper Pot is not one recipe, but a family of spicy meat-based soups and stews originating in West Africa. Introduced to the New World by African cooks relocated to the West Indies, this delicious tradition was embraced by Colonial Americans. . . . In the USA, Philadelphia Pepper Pot is often credited for providing sustenance to General George Washington and his starving troops in Valley Forge. Food historians generally agree it was not invented there. Museum Educator Lola Chen will be showing the children how to make a version of Pepper Pot Soup from The Carolina Housewife by Mrs. Rutledge (1847).

The Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids workshop at the Wilton Historical Society teaches kids a “reciept” (recipe) used in the Connecticut region. While the food is prepared, they hear about Colonial manners, morals and way of life. The monthly workshops feature relatively simple dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients, adapted for modern kitchens. All participants will sample their own cooking and take home recipe cards – as well as any leftovers! The children will learn how a Colonial kitchen would have operated, in order to appreciate the modern conveniences we take for granted. Previous sessions have made bannock cakes, pease porridge, pickles, an amulet of green peas, apple tansey, fairy butter, pumpkin bread, cranberry shortbread, New Year’s “cakes”, New England chowder, hand pies, cheese and ramp soufflé, pea and watercress Rappahannock, blackberry maslin, thirded bread, pound cake with “Oranges” juice and maple cup custard.

Suggested for ages 6 – 12.
Members: $10; Non-members $15. Space is limited — please register by contacting info@wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257.

Did You Know?
“Pepper Pot Smokin’ HOT! That was the cry of nineteenth century street vendors selling this African/Caribbean soup in Philadelphia that likely came to the city with enslaved people who were brought to the city. The soup was common, sold up and down Market Street at stalls. A famous painting in Philadelphia Museum of Art depicts a black woman selling steaming ladles full of soup. Flavored with plenty of black pepper, tripe and dumplings it was cheap and hearty. The ingredients were readily available. It’s rumored to have sustained Washington’s troops on that fateful winter at Valley Forge.

Pepper pot, smokin’ hot, became the slogan for Campbell’s Philadelphia Pepperpot condensed Soup. John Faulkner, director of brand communications at Campbell Soup Company said the product had a long company history and was made by the company for 110 years. “Originally the soup sold for 12 cents a can, we advertised 21 soups for 12 cents for many, many years”. . . . As regional tastes changed, so did the popularity of pepperpot soup. In 2010, Cambell’s discontinued the flavor although canned versions of the soup are still manufactured and sold in Canada.” – WHYY in Philadelphia
Andy Warhol’s Pepper Pot Soup, 1968

“In 1962 Warhol produced a series of thirty-two silkscreen paintings depicting the cans—one canvas for each variety of soup available at the time. He continued to produce images of the soup cans for more than two decades, a process of repetition that reflects his characteristic interest in mimicking the conditions of mechanical reproduction. In the Campbell’s soup can series, as elsewhere in mass culture, an “original” reproduction resulted in many other reproductions. Likewise, the screenprint technique—which removed any trace of the artist’s hand from the creative process—dovetailed with Warhol’s mass-produced subject. The artist’s own encounters with the homogeneity of postwar consumerism perhaps explain his particular attraction to the Campbell’s soup can. As he remarked, in typically laconic terms: “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” – Whitney Museum of American Art, object label, edited

In 2006, Andy Warhol’s Small Torn Campbell Soup Can (Pepper Pot), 1962, sold for $11,776,000 and set a world auction record for a painting from the Campbell Soup Can series.