A must-see, must-taste, must-experience edible, historical, food extravaganza, all Florida, all the time. A product of The FOOD Museum. For the Archives, please click the file folder icon at right.
Florida Food Heritage: Pillsbury Boat Builders
This restored boat shop is on display at Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez Village in Manatee County. Learn more here.
Florida Food Heritage Site: Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez
“The Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez is a partnership of Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Courts, Florida Institute for Salt Water Heritage, and the Cortez Village Historical Society. Its mission is to collect, preserve and interpret Florida Gulf Coast Maritime Heritage, with special emphasis on the historic fishing village of Cortez as a traditional maritime community within the greater context of Florida’s Maritime History, maritime history in general, and the natural world.” Read more here.
Florida Food Heritage Site: Wiggins General Store
King Wiggins built the store (1903) from bricks shipped in on the railroad. The store served the Town of Manatee. Upstairs, Wiggins operated a boarding house for visitors who came from miles away to shop in his store. (See more historic buildings at Manatee Village.)
Florida Food Heritage Site: Manatee County Agricultural Museum
“Agriculture has always been part of Manatee County’s history as well as a stable force and a major contributor to the County’s economy. At the Manatee County Agricultural Museum, exhibits focus on the County’s primary commodities including Livestock, Vegetables, Citrus, Horticulture, and Commercial Fishing. The museum features displays of tools, equipment, photographs and exhibits that reflect the area’s rich heritage.” Read more here.
Florida Food Heritage: Windover Archaeological Site
The remarkable state of preservation has allowed archaeologists to reconstruct some of the earliest New World diets based on contents from their stomachs and on scientific analysis.
For instance, a female about 35 years of age at death, was buried face down and still had remnants of her last meal in her stomach—fish scales and bones, seeds from grasses and berries, and bits of nuts. There were more than 3,000 elderberry seeds in her stomach. Elderberry extract has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of some viral infections, but we have no way of knowing if this woman had eaten the berries as a treatment, or if she merely liked elderberries and possibly died of acute indigestion from eating so many.
(learn more here)
Florida Civil War Era Food History: Cow Cavalry
“Small militia groups were formed to protect the inner part of Florida. These units were mostly made up of ranchers and cowhands. They were called the “Cow Cavalry.” Small numbers of Union soldiers would hold cavalry raids in south Florida to capture cattle. The Union Navy would also conduct raids along the coast trying to destroy the salt work plants. It was the mission of the cow cavalry to protect the cattle ranches, salt works, and small towns of south Florida.
Numerous small battles occurred as the groups met, but most battles were never documented. Florida’s greatest contribution to the war, besides the 5,000 Floridian men who fought, was food supplies. Florida sent beef, pork, fish, and fruit to the Confederate troops. A vital part of the Confederate strategy was to keep Florida’s inland roads and rivers protected so that the supplies could get safely northward. The soldiers of the “Cow Calvary” helped keep the Confederate army supplied with food from Florida.” (source)
IN MEMORY COW CAVALRY CO. B 1ST BATTALION FL. SPECIAL CAVALRY C.S.A. 1863 - 1865 ERECTED BY PLANT CITY CHAPTER #1931 UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY NOVEMBER 17, 2007
“By 1863 the Confederate army was suffering severe food shortages. Capt. John T. Lesley was commissioned to recruit from Ichepuckssa (cork area of Plant City) a company of pioneer men to round up and drive the wild cattle of Florida north to the railroad stations. Many were too young or too old for regular military service. With great effort, along with 8 other companies in Florida, these men successfully completed their mission overseeing drives as far north as Charleston.”
Second Spanish Florida Era (1784-1821) Food History: Kingsley Plantation
“When the British evacuated Florida, Spanish colonists as well as settlers from the newly formed United States came pouring in. Many of the new residents (see Zephaniah Kingsley below) were lured by favorable Spanish terms for acquiring property, called land grants. Others who came were escaped slaves, trying to reach a place where their U.S. masters had no authority and effectively could not reach them. Instead of becoming more Spanish, the two Floridas increasingly became more “American.” Finally, after several official and unofficial U.S. military expeditions into the territory, Spain formally ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, according to terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty.” (source)
“Zephaniah Kingsley moved to Florida in 1803 and began buying land and slaves. In 1810, he purchased Fort George Island, including its cotton and indigo plantation located on the island’s north end that was originally built by John McQueen. Also at this time, Kingsley purchased a young woman from Jolof, Senegambia, named Anta Mujigeen Ndiaye, whom he then freed and made his wife: Anna Kingsley.
Together they managed the affairs of what has become known as Kingsley Plantation. Since the Kingsleys, the plantation has gone through several incarnations: a social club, a tourist attraction, a state park, and finally, a National Historic Site. It boasts the oldest surviving plantation in the state, as well as one of the most complete slave cabin complexes in the nation.” (source)
Kitchen and main residence at Kingsley Plantation State Historic Site: Fort George Island, Florida The kitchen was often called the John “Don Juan” McQueen house, after the person who first built Kingsley Plantation. It was later called the Anna Jai (Anna Kingsley) house, after Kingsley’s wife. The kitchen building’s foundation was made of tabby.
Florida Food People: Al Repetto of Orange Blossom Groves
“In 1946, just out of the military, he and his brother-in-law bought a neglected collection of trees they named Orange Blossom Groves in what was then called Largo and is now part of Seminole. Three years later, they opened a sister operation on a lonely county road in Clearwater that is now U.S. 19.
Only a half-century ago, hundreds of family groves sprawled across 17,000 acres between Tarpon Springs and St. Petersburg. Pinellas, the smallest county by area in the state, managed to rank seventh in orange production and second in grapefruit.” Continue reading here about Mr. Repetto and Pinellas citrus history.
In 2005 Repetto was forced to destroy his trees due to canker. He had 37 acres and 3,000 trees. He sold the property which became a car dealership.
Florida Honey History: L.L. Lanier Family
“The Lanier family has been harvesting Tupelo honey from hives in the Apalachicola River swamps for three generations. In fact, the spring 1998 crop was our 100th! L.L. Lanier Sr. (standing, left) and L.L. Lanier Jr. (holding pole) are shown tending bees in a photo that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. Lavernor Laveon Lanier, Sr. started the business in the 1890’s with a $500 loan from a wealthy local farmer. Having previously apprenticed as a beekeeper, L.L. Lanier, Sr. knew the trade. He recognized the unique qualities that could allow the swamps around Wewahitchka, Florida to produce a variety of honey that is in commercial production nowhere else in the world, even to this day. Over the years, the business has grown, and more and more hives have been added to the bee yards along the banks of the Apalachicola. L.L. Lanier, Jr. apprenticed with his father, and assumed the leadership role in the family business in the 1940’s. Always ready to spin a yarn about the hardships and the joys of beekeeping, L.L. Lanier Jr.’s name has become synonymous with Tupelo Honey.” (source)