A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat

The Story

In A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, we follow one recipe over three hundred years, exploring topics that include gender roles, slavery, kitchen technology, and food traditions/heritage. Click HERE for the lesson plan.

The Questions

Domestic Labor: gender roles & race

  1. Who was doing the chores related to cooking and the kitchen?
  2. Why do you think that was?
  3. How do you think the women and girls felt about being the ones to do all the work related to food making?
  4. How would you feel about that?
  5. Do you think the mother and daughter in Charleston, SC felt the same way about their work as the other women and girls in the story?
  6. Why do you think the author didn’t tell us they were enslaved?
  7. Would the mother and daughter be smiling while making the Raspberry Fool?
  8. Why were they hiding while they licked the bowl?
  9. How would you feel if you were in their place?


  1. How did the technology used to make the Raspberry Fool change over the centuries?

Food Traditions/Heritage

  1. Do you have any recipes passed down through your family or special foods you eat on certain holidays/occasions that are family traditions or traditional foods based on your culture?

The History

Learn more about the history behind this real true story.

The Activities

18th century gender role activity

1. Make a twig whisk

Experiment with your twig whisk, a modern whisk and an electric mixer, which beats cream or eggs faster (time how long it takes) and which one beats them to the stiffest cream or meringue?

Food and Culture Activity

2. Call or video conference a relative or close family friend and ask them to share a family recipe, including when the recipe is made (a special holiday or event?), and who the recipe came from.

  • Make the recipe.
  • Write your memories about that recipe if it’s part of a family tradition.

Chore Activity

Click HERE for the activity. Click HERE for the answers.