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Searching For Rosa Parks’ Pancakes

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May 01, 2017
Searching For Rosa Parks’ Pancakes

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player, Stitcher, or Apple Podcasts. (And please subscribe!)

Last year the Library of Congress posted Rosa Parks' personal documents online for the first time. Buried under postcards from Martin Luther King and lists of volunteers for the Montgomery Bus Boycott was an item that caught our eye: a pancake recipe, written on the back of a bank envelope.


There was something very unusual about this recipe -- it calls for peanut butter in the pancake batter.

And that made us wonder about a lot of things -- like why didn't we ever think of putting peanut butter in pancakes??? (Genius!) And did Rosa Parks love food and cooking?

We all know about her bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 --and her role in the civil rights movement. But how much do we really know about Rosa Parks?


This week on The Sporkful, we go in search of Rosa Parks' pancakes.

First we visit the Library of Congress to learn more about Rosa's life -- and to see that recipe firsthand. Then we travel to Detroit to share a meal with Rosa's nieces (below), who grew up on her home cooking. (They published some of their aunt's favorite recipes in their book, Our Auntie Rosa.)


Finally we cook and eat those peanut butter pancakes -- with a little help from our friend (and southern food expert) Nicole Taylor, author of the Up South Cookbook:


In the process, we explore southern food history and African-American cooking traditions. And we get to know the Rosa Parks who nurtured her family and loved a good, slow-cooked meal.

"That's why we're making the pancakes -- because we have all these misconceptions about [Rosa Parks]," Nicole points out. "She's human, and the pancakes are the most human thing."


Special thanks to Penguin Random House for allowing us to include the recipe for "Auntie Rosa's Lemonade" from Sheila McCauley Keys' book:

lemons (any quantity you desire)
sugar to taste

Cut lemons, place in saucepan, cover with water, and set over medium-high heat. Bring to boil, and boil until lemons break down, rind, oil, and all. (This makes the lemon flavor stronger and more concentrated.) Strain out the lemon pieces, add water and sugar, to taste, to the lemon juice, and serve over ice.

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player, Stitcher, or Apple Podcasts. (And please subscribe!)

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Interstitial music in this episode from Black Label Music:

- "Pong" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "On The Floor" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Summertime" by Jack Ventimiglia

- "Mellophone" by JT Bates

- "Legend" by Erick Anderson

Photos: Dan Pashman, FlickrCC/Richard

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