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Sallie Ann Robinson

Chef and culinary historian Sallie Ann Robinson was born on August 4, 1958 on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina to Albertha Robinson Stafford and Alton Ward, Sr. She attended Mary Fields School on Daufuskie Island. Robinson was featured as the character Ethel in the 1972 memoir, The Water is Wide written by her teacher Pat Conroy. She then moved to Savannah, Georgia, to attend Bartlett Middle School, but returned to South Carolina, where she graduated from Bluffton’s H.E. McCracken High School in 1975.

After living and working at the William Hilton Inn on Hilton Head Island, Robinson moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There, she became a licensed practical nurse for BAYADA Home Health Care before returning to Daufuskie Island. In 1991, Robinson began working as a home health care nurse and as the secretary and manager of a cleaning company. Encouraged by a client, she began collecting recipes and stories of the Gullah community for a cookbook of foods from her childhood. Robinson worked with other natives of Daufuskie Island during the late 1980s to launch Daufuskie Island Day, which was observed on the fourth Saturday in June. In 2008, Robinson created the Daufuskie Island Tours. She also served a council woman on the Daufuskie Island board. She went on to work as a personal chef, and private culinary instructor. She was also featured on numerous television shows for her culinary skills including The QVC Show, The 700 Club, CN8’s Your Morning Show and the Food Network. In 2010, Robinson was invited to give a presentation and dinner on the cuisine of the Gullah peoples at the Smithsonian Institution for attendees from West Africa and Ghana.

Robinson’s first book Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2003. Then, in 2006, she released Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night. Robinson was highlighted in many publications including Southern Living, National Geographic, Hilton Head Monthly, The South Magazine, Garden and Gun, and Bon Appetit.

Robinson has four children: Thomas Bush, Rakenya Robinson, Jermaine Robinson, and Charles Simmons IV.

Sallie Ann Robinson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 9, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.045

Sex

Female

Interview Date

02/09/2017

Last Name

Robinson

Middle Name

Ann

Organizations
Schools

Mary Field School

H.E. McCracken High School

Savannah Technical College

Bartlett Middle School

First Name

Sallie

Birth City, State, Country

Daufuskie Island

HM ID

ROB32

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Life Is Precious.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

8/4/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Savannah

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Chef and culinary historian Sallie Ann Robinson (1958 - ) authored the cookbooks Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way and Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night. She also worked as a personal chef and culinary instructor.

Employment

Hilton Head Inn

Piggly Wiggly Corporation

BAYADA Home Health Care

Favorite Color

Red, Black

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sallie Ann Robinson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sallie Ann Robinson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes her father and stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sallie Ann Robinson lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers the Mary Fields School on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sallie Ann Robinson recalls learning about the history of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers her sixth grade teacher, Pat Conroy

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers watching television as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes the house where she grew up

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes how food was preserved on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about transportation on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes the medical care on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes the medical care on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about emigration from Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sallie Ann Robinson reflects upon what she learned from Pat Conroy, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sallie Ann Robinson reflects upon what she learned from Pat Conroy, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers Pat Conroy's conflict with the school superintendent

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers leaving Daufuskie Island to pursue education

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers her interests during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers learning to use a shotgun

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers hunting and fishing on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sallie Ann Robinson recalls the attitudes toward swimming on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about the importance of learning to cook

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers learning the terms Gullah and Geechee

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about her relationship to the mainland as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers her first job after high school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about her children and her move to Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sallie Ann Robinson recalls earning her nursing license

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about her experiences as a home care nurse

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes the changes in the economy on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about the history of tourism on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes the impact of commercial development on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about the dispossession of native residents on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about her ancestors on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers the First Union African Baptist Church on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers her early love of cooking

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers starting her first cookbook

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about 'Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about her second book, 'Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers recipes from her childhood

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about eating game meat

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sallie Ann Robinson reflects upon the misrepresentations of Gullah culture

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sallie Ann Robinson reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sallie Ann Robinson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sallie Ann Robinson describes her concerns for the future of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sallie Ann Robinson reflects upon Pat Conroy's portrayal of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sallie Ann Robinson talks about cooking in people's homes

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sallie Ann Robinson remembers her talk at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sallie Ann Robinson reflects upon her role in the future of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sallie Ann Robinson narrates her photographs

Jessica B. Harris

Educator and culinary historian Jessica Harris was born in Queens, New York on March 18, 1948. Harris attended the United Nations International School from 1953 until 1961, and then went on to the High School of the Performing Arts, where she graduated in 1964. After high school, Harris attended Bryn Mawr College, earning her A.B. degree in French in 1968. While there, she spent her junior year abroad in Paris. She returned to France in 1968, attending the Universite de Nancy for a year, and then earned her master’s degree from Queens College in 1971. Harris earned her Ph.D. from New York University in 1983.

After returning from the Universite de Nancy, Harris began working as a lecturer in the department of romance languages at Queens College in 1969. She has remained there throughout her career, now working as an associate professor in the English department. Harris has also devoted her career to cuisine, writing on foods from around the world, often with a focus on African and Caribbean flavors. She has written several books, including The Welcome Table: African-American Heritage Cooking and Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking. She has also contributed to numerous other books as well as written articles for Food & Wine and The New Yorker among others.

Harris has been honored numerous times for spreading the word of African and Caribbean cuisines around the world. Some of her awards include an appreciation award from Walt Disney World Epcot Center, the Heritage Award from the Black Culinarians, and the Food Hero award from Eating Well Magazine. She has also appeared on numerous televisions programs, including Good Morning America and The Today Show.

Accession Number

A2004.133

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/18/2004

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

B.

Organizations
Schools

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

United Nations International School

New York University

Bryn Mawr College

First Name

Jessica

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

HAR10

Favorite Season

Fall, Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Senegal, West Africa, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Paris, France, New Orleans, Louisiana

Favorite Quote

Cool.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/18/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Okra

Short Description

Culinary historian and english professor Jessica B. Harris (1948 - ) served as a lecturer in the department of romance languages and associate professor in the English department at Queens College. Harris also authored several books on foods from around the world, with a focus on African and Caribbean flavors, including The Welcome Table: African-American Heritage Cooking, and Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking.

Employment

Queens College

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jessica B. Harris' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her maternal ancestry, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her maternal ancestry, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her maternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her mother growing up in a family of ten children

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her maternal grandmother's experiences on the SS America in the 1950s

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her mother's education and work

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her paternal ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris contrasts her maternal and paternal families

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris describes her father's educational experiences in Tennessee and New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris describes her how her parents met in Brooklyn, New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her father's employment and real estate interest

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris recalls her family's purchase of a house in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris talks about attending the United Nations International School in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her friendships from United Nations International School in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris explains how her love of travel and cosmopolitan outlook developed at the United Nations International School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her teachers and activities at the United Nations International School in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon changes to the United Nations International School after its relocation

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon portrayals of Africa during her childhood in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her friendships from the United Nations International School and their influence on her cultural perspective

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her transition to the High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris describes her friendships and diction class at the High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Jessica B. Harris describes her experiences at High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris describes her experiences at High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her transition to a less sheltered life when she started attending High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her career options growing up

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris explains her decision to attend Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris talks about being admitted to Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris recalls learning about the underpinnings of racism at Bryn Mawr College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her experiences studying abroad in Paris, France in 1966 to 1967

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris describes a racial incident she experienced while studying abroad in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris describes the longstanding friendship she formed with her host family while studying abroad in Paris

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her experiences and activities at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris recalls her graduate studies at Nancy-University in Nancy, France

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris describes teaching French in the SEEK Program at Queens College in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her departure from and return to the SEEK Program at Queens College in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her theater writing in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her experiences as a journalist and her friendships with African American writers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her travels to Senegal in the 1970s and travel writing

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris talks about writing her first book

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris recalls the impetus for her first book

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris talks about writing her first cookbook 'Hot Stuff: A Cookbook in Praise of the Piquant'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris recalls learning about the culinary history of chilies for her first book 'Hot Stuff: A Cookbook in Praise of the Piquant'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris talks about the origin of her second book 'Iron Pots & Wooden Spoons'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her cookbook, 'Iron Pots & Wooden Spoons' and the connection between food and the African Diaspora

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her cookbooks 'Sky Juice and Flying Fish' and 'Tasting Brazil'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris describes connections between food, religion and culture in the Caribbean and Brazil

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris describes the influence of the African Diaspora upon North American culture and cuisine

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris talks about African history that frames 'The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon the history and cultural connections discerned by studying food

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her travels to Haiti and perspective on Haitian culture

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris describes the impetus for her book 'Beyond Gumbo: Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon the international aspects of a Creole identity

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris talks about the motivation for her book 'A Kwanzaa Keepsake'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon the symbolism of the table for African American culture

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris describes her hopes for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris describes her hopes for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon the importance of conversation

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Jessica B. Harris narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Jessica B. Harris talks about writing her first book
Jessica B. Harris talks about African history that frames 'The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent'
Transcript
Were you always interested in writing about food or--$$No.$$Did it just come as a--$$I, only child, my mother [Rhoda Alease Jones Harris] was a trained dietician, I always ate well, I always, because I was an only child if she was cooking I was in the kitchen, and I remember all of this other stuff that I've been talking about, the U.N. School [United Nations International School, New York, New York], the ability to get along with people in other cultures, the ability to eat foods from other things, the research coming out of the Bryn Mawr [College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania] component. I guess the performance not afraid to be a fool in public part from, from [High School of] Performing Arts [(PA); Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, New York, New York] maybe, all come together to--start this food thing rolling. What happened was in the course of, of the writing and particularly in the course of the Essence, you know, I met any number of PR [public relations] people. One of whom, let's see if I can get this was, Barbara Cullen [sic.], oh no wait, Cullen-Taylor [ph.], Barbara [A.] Taylor; Karen [N.] Cullen I think, a woman that was--there was a public relations firm named Cullen-Taylor [sic. Cullen & Taylor] they operated in Manhattan [New York, New York] in I guess in the mid-'70s [1970s], they were extraordinary. If anybody wanted the top of the line PR people they'd go to them. It's two extremely elegant ladies, and I was having lunch with one of them one day and just casual conversation and she says, you know, "You need to write a book." I said, "Yeah, yeah, right sure," and she said, "no, I mean that," and she says, "and I have a friend who's an editor at"--I don't remember the publishing house but somewhere, big publishing house and she said, "I want you to go see her." So the editor's name was Joyce Jacks [ph.], I went to see her, talked to her about some of these things and she said, "No, she's right you do need to write a book, write me a proposal," and I wrote a proposal for a book that was going to be a third world women's beauty book and she bought it, and I started writing on it, and at some point in time she left the publishing house which in publishing terms means that my book was orphaned; I didn't have an editor who was committed to it because it wasn't something that the editor had bought, I mean and I went through two or three editors in the course of one or two years' contracts that they had given me to finish the book. The upshot being that on the day the book was finished, I go to see the ultimate editor, the one who would've been challenged with, you know charged with finishing it up and she informs me that they decided not to publish it. It's like--when you write your first book, that is not what you want to hear on the day you go to turn in the manuscript.$So we've gone from defining it to now working that, or dancing that [culinary] continuum if you will. I'm gonna leave the next one out and come to the last two, which are the most recent two on the continuum, 'The Africa Cookbook[: Tastes of a Continent,' Jessica B. Harris], which basically looks at the other side, so it takes it from this side to that side. What was the stuff and arguably it's not was, because African food has evolved, too. We talked about chilies earlier but that whole idea of there was no corn in Africa, there was no cassava in Africa, there were no tomatoes in Africa, there were no chilies in Africa, oh they don't eat a lot of potatoes but there weren't any potatoes in Africa before 1492, so all of this stuff is getting there just around the time, I mean if you think about it wasn't Elmina Castle [Elmina, Ghana] built in 1493 or 1491 or something like that, so just about the time that this massive de-population.$$Elmina being a slave castle right--$$Elmina being a slave castle on the Coast of Ghana, so what is it Sao Jorge da Mina 'cause it was Portuguese, 'cause it was the Portuguese. So this, this repopulating, this complexion change of the new world as a result of slavery, enslavement--and all of those things sort of triangulating again at the same time so that, that food if it had arrived was only beginning to get embedded. Okay 1492--by 1592 the slave trade is pumping folks into Brazil, Mexico, Veracruz [Mexico]--all of that part of the world is already being transformed. By the time you get to 1692, the Caribbean is being transformed, and by the time you get to 1792 and beyond, the United States is being transformed, and in that crucible of those three hundred years, 'cause by the time you get to 1892, four hundred years, the trade is over, but in those intervening three hundred years, this food is anchoring itself in Africa and bouncing back and forth across the Atlantic [Ocean] in all sorts of ways. You asked at the very beginning of this what was my favorite food and I said okra. Why? Because okra is indigenous to Africa, and wherever you see okra in the world, Africa has been--wherever, that includes southern India where they call it bhindi, that includes the Middle East where they eat a lot of it, that includes the world and so looking at this whole migration of foodstuffs and how this stuff gets out and gets into the ebb and flow and how it starts to transform things is really a way of looking at history. And Zora [Neale Hurston] used to say she looked at the world through a spyglass of anthropology, Zora Neale Hurston. I look at history, if you will, through the spyglass of the plate--