girl with chicken

Do you like to eat? What are your favorite foods?

What do you think were favorite foods in colonial times?

One of the most interesting ways to learn about the people who lived before us is to compare our foodways with theirs. Foodways are the eating habits and cooking practices of a people in a geographical region and historical period. Foodways include cooking ingredients, how foods were prepared, who ate the food, and how they ate it.

Food communicates many things. Food is an important part of a person’s cultural or group identity and an expression of how one feels. Special memories and traditions often include food. Food can be used to control others. In the colonial period, for example, some slave owners and masters rationed food. Rationing allowed those in power to create an environment of fear and powerlessness through their ability to take away or deny the sustenance (food) that was necessary for survival. Servants and enslaved people had few means to purchase, grow, or gather food on their own, and they often were forced to be obedient in order to avoid hunger and starvation. As you will see, however, even those with little power had ways of getting around inhumane circumstances.

In Foodways at Colonial London Town you will learn what and how different people ate at London Town, Maryland during the colonial period. At the end of the cookbook is a glossary of terms for colonial foods, cooking equipment, and techniques. Continue to Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town: The Stories of Three Families to discover what it was like to grow up in the Chesapeake region before the American Revolution.


This project was developed through a Teaching American History Grant partnership between Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Historic London Town and Gardens.