Pine State and Race

Pine State is inspired from a mixture of the “white” south and the “black” south. Although slavery was illegal when Brian was growing up, it was still very common to have an african american housekeeper. Brian’s family had a housekeeper and her name was Naomi. Brian reflects on the many hours he spent in the kitchen and shopping with his mom, but he also remembers Naomi taking care of him and his siblings when their parents travelled. He remembers the delicious comfort food that came out of her kitchen. Unfortunately, Naomi got into a car wreck that left her paralyzed and she was unable to care for the children anymore. She was deeply loved by all the children and they still visit her to this day.

Naomi Steele and Martha Snyder, 1971

The memories of Naomi’s food were some of the earliest memories of true southern food that Brian and his siblings had. My mother, Brian’s sister, says she remembers Naomi getting out her handwritten cookbook with recipes that had been passed down from generation to generation. Some of the recipes possibly originated from Naomi’s relatives who were enslaved.

Naomi Steele, around 1984

At the time of Naomi’s wreck it was still very common to have a housekeeper. So my grandparents, Brian’s parents, hired Nancy. Nancy was an integral part of every Snyder Family holiday feast. Brian remembers Nancy making her biscuits from scratch and says they were the most amazing part of the meal. He also notes that her fried chicken was unmatched! I can attest to that, I was very young when I was eating Nancy’s fried chicken, but when you eat something that delicious, you don’t forget it. Everything that Nancy made was from scratch and you can’t fake that kind of food. This authenticity and love is important to Pine State when they make hundreds of biscuits everyday. You can see throughout the videos included throughout the project that the biscuit making process is not a simple task. There are meticulous steps that are key to getting the perfect biscuit. Brian says that the technique is as important if not more important that the ingredients themselves, and that is the undeniable truth with biscuits. IMG_7552

When asked if race played a role in the recipes of Pine State, Brian’s answer was “certainly.” Race played a role not so much in the recipes, but in the nostalgia and love that Brian and his siblings absorbed through the foods that Nancy prepared. Food was one of the primary notions of love and connection that they shared with Nancy and Naomi. Brian sheds a light on food and race by saying, “food transcends all race and class. It’s something we all must have and it’s a form of communication that stands on its own. It’s a language we all speak fluently.”


Key concepts: race, culture, ritual, memory




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