The Jemima Code Frequently Asked Questions

“What can we learn from Aunt Jemima besides her recipe for great pancakes?”

The Jemima Code is a pop-up exhibit, blog, and book project that honors the African American cooks who nourished generations of Americans with meals prepared using fresh food from the garden, cooked with love and intelligence at the kitchen hearth. The traveling installation and lecture presents an engaging history, featuring larger-than-life images from my new book, The Jemima Code (University of Texas Press, 2015).

  • The Exhibit features 8-food transparent vinyl screens of America’s important and invisible kitchen workers, selected from black cookbooks published from Boston to Los Angeles to New Orleans.
  • The screens are designed to be hung from the ceiling, scattered around the room, away from walls, 1-2 feet above the floor, so that guests mingle with the distinguished images.
  • The screens have rod pockets and grommeted corners for easy installation on picture-hanging wire.
  • Accompanying talk speaks to the history of African American influence on American cuisine, dating to 1827 and covering topics such as: The Skill and Wisdom of the Slave Kitchen House; Black Enterprise, Remembering 19th Century Entrepreneurs; TruckGardens, Canning Clubs, and the Connection to Today’s Organic Food Movement.
  • The Exhibit and Lecture Program provides an ideal setting to spotlight local black caterers chefs, food retailers, and other purveyors in taste-around receptions, buffets of classic African American dishes, cooking demonstrations, etc.
  • Other key ingredients for a compelling program are: oral history projects focusing on seniors’ memories of regional food practices such as shopping for food, markets, gardens, restaurants; a film presentation; demos by regional folk-art practitioners (praline-makers, basket weavers, shrimpers and fishermen), cook-off contest for the best of a local dish, a book signing.
  • The Exhibit is insured and shipped via FedEx in cardboard tubes at exhibitors expense and returned within 5 days following the program. Allow 2-3 days prior to program for unrolling screens so they relax.
  • A donation to Toni Tipton-Martin’s Foundation is a preferred honorarium.