The cornbread we ate was made with Jiffy, from the box; all we did to prepare this dish was mix the cornmeal with milk and eggs and put it in a pan in the oven. According to and Frederick Douglass Opie, corn bread has been a traditional staple in the diet of African Americans since West Africans were brought to the U.S. during the slave trade (Opie). They learned and adapted to the use of corn through teaching from Native Americans. Corn was a native crop to the Americas, the earliest trace of it being found in Mexico. Puerto Ricans also have historically prepared cornbread. Currently, the most common use of cornmeal in Puerto Rico is to make corn bread, according to author of the book Eating Puerto Rico (Cuadra). In this case—as opposed to the other food dishes where it was the African influence that shaped it—cornmeal was a syncretic contribution of the Americas, which Africans adapted to. Because of this, corn bread is still a popular dish in both Puerto Rican cuisine and African American cuisine. Corn bread stretches the meal, adds flavor, and serves as an edible utensil to soak up the last bits of juice and flavor that are left on the plate. For my Thanksgiving plate, it was equivalent to a cherry on top of a sundae.
Cuadra, Ortiz, Cruz, and Russ Davidson. “Cornmeal.” Eating Puerto Rico: A History of Food, Culture, and Identity. U of North Carolina, 2013. 77-95. Print.
Opie, Frederick Douglass. “Adding to My Bread and Greens.” Hog & Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America. New York: Columbia UP, 2008. 17-30. Print.