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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.


Rose DeShazer White

Home Cook

Rose DeShazer White, a native in Hollandale, Mississippi, grew up eating caramel cake. Her mother baked caramel cakes on a wood stove from a recipe that was passed down from her mother. When Rose was fourteen years old, she followed her brothers to Chicago, leaving her mother and the family recipe behind. She didn’t think about the family caramel cake again until she was married—and until her mother was in Chicago to teach her the recipe. Today, Rose makes old-fashioned, three-layer cakes with homemade caramel icing. And she always makes them using the tools that were handed down from her mother: three cake pans, an icing pot, and a spoon. She’s grown fond of particular ingredients as well: she swears by Swans Down cake flour, Calumet baking powder, and real vanilla. But while Rose loves to bake (she calls it her therapy), she doesn’t actually like to eat her own cakes. She makes them for friends and relatives, for special occasions or just to have around the house. In fact, she probably has a few slices in her freezer right now.

Date of interview:
2008-03-26 00:00

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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