Food Karma

You don't know much, do you?
You don’t know much, do you?

Do you like meeting new people from exotic lands? Do you like learning what they eat, what they believe and how they have fun? I do, which is one reason I’m glad we are a nation of immigrants. Without immigrants, we’d all be eating boiled beef and dancing the minuet. Bor-ing.

I spent several years in an exotic land-the Hood. The Hood probably exists in any sizable city in America, so any one of us could drive there on any given day. While riding through the Hood with a Rich Person one December morning (she was a very nice Rich person and was delivering Christmas presents to Hood children) her young kids excitedly pressed their noses to the window.


“Mommy, are these Real Poor People?” they asked. Mommy was very embarrassed, but I had to laugh. I was a tour guide in an exotic land, which was ironically only about seven miles from where these kids lived.

Pot likker
Pot likker

In the Hood I had met a young man called Pot Likker. I consulted Granny, the local matriarch, on the origin of this name.

“You don’t know much, do you?” Granny often started our conversations this way.

“Nope, that’s why I ask you,” I assured her.

“Pot likker is the broth left in the pot after boiling greens. You take a slab of cornbread and soak up the pot likker. It’s good. Want to try some?” Granny was always cooking and always trying to feed someone-she said I was too skinny. “Sure,” I said.

It was good, smoky and earthy and savory. “What else is in that pot likker, Granny?”

Corn bread
Corn bread

“Just a few neckbones.”

What’s a neckbone?”

“You don’t know much, do you?”

Granny told me that pot likker was slave food. The Rich People sent the “worthless” broth in which the greens were boiled down to the slaves, while they themselves ate lots of meat. “Granny, did you know most of the vitamins are in the pot likker?” “I’m not surprised. That’s probably why we were healthier than the white folk.”

In medieval England, Rich People ate a lots of meat. The wild game was reserved for them; Poor People could be executed for poaching. Anything that came out of the ground, like carrots, greens and turnips, was food fit for pigs-and Poor People. Rich People avoided fresh fruits and vegetables, while Poor People ate what they could grow and gather.

And so Rich People were afflicted with gout and vitamin deficiency diseases and had fewer kids, while the inferior Poor People were stronger and produced broods of children. According to Medieval Diet, “Nobles lacked Vitamin C and fibre. This led to an assortment of health problems including bad teeth, skin diseases, scurvy and rickets.”

Kind of food karma, don’t you think?



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