Cannibal Carbonado

Props to this guy who survived the first Starving Time in Jamestown, Virginia, with his gallows humor intact:

“Nay, so great was our famine, that ….one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her before it was knowne; for which hee was executed, as hee well deserved: now whether shee was better roasted, boyled or carbonado’d, I know now; but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of.”

For those not familiar with 17th-century cannibal cuisine, “powdered” = salted and “carbonado’d” = grilled.

This “powdered-wife” dainty comes from an article, part of The Washington Post’s excellent “The Dawn of American Slavery: 400 Years Ago,” about the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation’s project to reconstruct the life of a slave known as Angela, who survived the horrendous Middle Passage and arrived on these shores in 1619, just in time for the colony’s Second Starving Time.

The image above is an idealized version of Jamestown circa 1614. Below is a mass grave discovered by archeologists beneath the future capitol buildings.

Mass grave at Jamestown discovered by archeologists.

More to the point, says, historian and foundation president James Horn, “1619 gave birth to the great paradox of our nation’s founding: slavery in the midst of freedom. It marked both the origin of the most important political development in American history, the rise of democracy, and the emergence of what would become one of the nation’s greatest challenges: the corrosive legacy of racial discrimination and inequality that has afflicted our society since its earliest years.”




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