African-American life in rural South Carolina
1840s to 1950s
Ms. Catherine Waiters tells of ash cake....
Recorded June 29, 1988
"Podcast" button to hear Catherine Waiters talk about cooking
ash cake in her fireplace.
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the MP3 file directly at CWaitersAshCake.
When Catherine Waiters was a little girl, she spent a lot
of time with her great-grandmother, Irene Charles, who was born
about 1850 and was still practicing the old ways of cooking in
1930. On this recording, Ms. Waiters is telling how her
great-grandmother made ash cake.
C. WAITERS: And what
do you call--used to call ash cake.
VERNON: Yeah, tell
me about it.
C. WAITERS: You cook
the ash cake along in the winter time. She'll tell nobody
don't come around the chimney while the ashes be burning.
You know, don't spit in the chimney.
Tell me that.
C. WAITERS: So she
could get the ashes.
VERNON: Oh, she
didn't want anybody to come spit in the chimney cause she wanted
the ashes to be clean.
Clean. And she'd put the ashes back on one side. Then
she'd-- I don't know how she'd make her meal dough but she'd
put it in there. She'd clean the ashes back and then put the ashes
up on top of it. But it would heat in the ashes.
VERNON: It would be
made out of corn meal and what?
C. WAITERS: Corn
meal and salt. I don't know whether she put flour in
it. I don't believe she put flour in there. And then she'll
watch it--and take it out of there--when it get done, she'll take
it out, and then she'll wash it and wash it and wash it.
VERNON: What did it
C. WAITERS: It look
like corn bread, a big thick corn bread.
VERNON: And she'd
wash the outside with a rag and wet?
C. WAITERS: She wash
it with a rag. To get the ashes off it.
VERNON: It would be
in a pot? And it would be covered, the pot, wouldn't it?
C. WAITERS: It
wouldn't be in a pot.
VERNON: She'd just
pour it down on the hearth? Where the hot ashes had
been. And then she'd take the hot ashes and put on top of
C. WAITERS: On top
of it. They had the pots to cook it in, but she didn't. Ash
cake don't be cook in no pot.
VERNON: Why did
they? Did it taste better than the one cooked in a pot?