Podcasts Meat + Three

The Bittersweet History of Pralines

Episode: 191

Pralines, a sweet concoction of sugar, butter, and pecans, are more than just a staple of New Orleans cuisine. They carry with them a rich legacy of adaptation and survival, embodying the spirit of a city known for its resilience. This episode delves into the bittersweet history of pralines, revealing their deep connections to the legacy of slavery, the innovative spirit of African American women, and the enduring fight for freedom and equality.

In this episode of Meat and Three, Taylor Early is joined by co-host Jessica Gingrich, a journalist and food historian who has spent the past 3 years reporting on the intertwined histories of pralines, systemic injustice, and the Angola 3. Central to this story is Robert King, a member of the Angola 3, who spent decades in solitary confinement at Angola Prison. King’s journey from his grandmother’s kitchen to making pralines in prison highlights the power of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable circumstances.

In addition to King’s story, this episode delves into the broader history and cultural significance of pralines, tracing their origins from the kitchens of enslaved African American women to modern-day entrepreneurship. Food historian Dr. Zella Palmer provides insights into how pralines became a source of empowerment for Black women, despite discriminatory practices. Additionally, we examine the brutal realities of forced labor in Louisiana’s prison system are examined through the firsthand account of prison rights activist Kiana Calloway, who discusses the harsh conditions at Angola Prison and the broader implications of prison labor on our food systems.

 

Further Reading:

Learn more about Robert King and the Angola 3 here. You can also read about their experience in From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King by Robert King and Solitary by Albert Woodfox.

Keep up with Zella Palmer here, and listen to her podcast Culture and Flavor for more of her thoughts on food and culture.

Connect with Kiana Calloway here, and hear stories from other men forced to work the farm line at Angola here. Read more about the current lawsuit against Angola Prison here.

Special thanks to Joshua Sbicca at the Prison Agricultural Lab. You can read more about their work here.

Deep appreciation to Ashley Rogers at the Whitney Plantation and Rick Halpern at the University of Toronto for their invaluable insights into Louisiana’s sugar industry.

This episode was reported by Hannah Chouinard, Addison Austin-Lou, and Jessica Gingrich.

H Conley was the editor for this episode.

Jessica Gingrich Lead Produced this episode, with support from Addison Austin-Lou, Elizabeth Fisher, and Sam Gerardi.

Our audio engineer for this episode is Armen Spendjian.

Includes music from the album End of Line by Quantum Jazz.

Meat and Three is produced by H Conley and Taylor Early.

 

Heritage Radio Network is a listener supported nonprofit podcast network. Support Meat and Three by becoming a member!

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The Bittersweet History of Pralines

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