“When we go, the stories go too, unless we’ve passed them on”
In the African-American community, food is a very important entity in relation to joyful family celebrations. It has also taken us from our darkest moments and brightened them through nourishment for our souls to give us hope for a new tomorrow. As diverse as we are as a people, the celebrated go-to tea cake for family gatherings is as varied as well. While almost everyone can recall a close relative baking this wonderful treat, the ingredients and taste are as different as we are.
In my opinion, the tea cake is the world’s happiest cookie. Mention it, and these two simple words bring back happy, carefree memories of childhood and the beloved bakers, our ancestors that have gone on before us. Almost everyone in the African-American community has had an encounter with a tea cake. Be it a grandmother, older aunt, or just an elderly friend of the family, tea cakes were and are still an integral part of our culture. While today’s generation seems to have strayed away from baking, I have hopes that the desire to bake tea cakes will be resurrected and not lost. There is a need for it and its history to be passed on to future generations.
The tea cake was brought into my life by my beloved maternal grandmother, Lettie Jones Boseman. We all loved her tea cakes, and I would await the phone call from her announcing that I was free to come over and grab as many as I wanted. Thankfully, we lived just around the corner, and my visits did not have to involve anyone else. Therefore, I was able to gobble down as many as I could at 3014 and during my slow walk home. Reaching my destination, I would place the surviving tea cakes on the kitchen table to share with my siblings. The tea cakes, rich with butter, would leave the tell-tale sign of its contents by the round grease stains circling the brown paper bag.
Although Momma’s teacakes were round, I have redesigned my tea cakes in the shape of a heart to express my love to an endearing wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and now, also a great-great grandmother. Hopefully, one of the younger Bosemans will find the joy I have found recreating a simple cookie that is so rich in history and taste.
Article by Leslie Everage