I can’t believe I have another mideterm this week. Of course it’s for the second culinary class of the semester. This course is American Regional Cuisine. I have LOVED this class. It is like taking a culinary historical roadtrip across America. Here’s the cliff note edition of where we have been.
NEW ENGLAND- Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhodes Island and Vermont
First Colonists Pilgrims and Puritans had to adapt their recipes to the food that was grown here. Main influence was the Native American tribes who introduced them to corn and farming in this cooler terrain. “Three Sisters” triad of farming. Corn was planted, then bean plants which grew up around corn stalk, gave the corn stability and bean plant something to grow on, then squash plants grew at the base of the corn and beans. In the 1880’s immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and Portugal arrived en mass and brought their own cooking styles like single pot dishes such as seafood stew. Braised and pickled dishes from Britain became the popular New England Boiled Dinner. Root vegetables are important to this cuisine. Typical dishes are; Anadama Bread, Blueberries, Boston Brown Bread, Boston Baked Beans (from the Puritans who would make these on Saturday to each on the Sabbath a day of rest), Boston Cream Pie, Chowder, Cider, Clambake, Cobbler, Concord Grape, Cranberries, Johnny Cakes, Maple Syrup, Pop Over, Turkey, Vermont (white) Cheddar Cheese.
MID-ATALNTIC – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia
Mild climate, abundant rivers valleys, rich soil and extensive coastline makes a perfect environment for orchards and farms established by early settlers who emigrated from England, Germany, the Netherlands and Western Europe. In the 17th century New York was a Dutch Colony. French Huguenots settled in the Catskills and Germans settled in the Hudson Valley. The German-speaking Mennonites who later settled in Pennsylvania became known as the “Pennsylvania Dutch” due to the mispronunciation of the language “Deutsche” (german). Typical dishes and ingredients are; Apple Butter, Beef on Weck, Blue Crab, Boova Shenkel, Challah, Chicken Pot Pie, Crab Cake, Funnel Cake, Kugel, Latke, Lebkuchen, New York Cheesecake, Philly Cheese Steak, Reuben Sanwich, Sauerbraten, Schmear, Scrapple, Shoofly Pie, Stromboli, Smithfield Ham, Vichyssoise and Waldorf Salad.
THE SOUTH- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
The Old South is the states of the pre-Civil War period from 1820-1860. The New South are the states from the Reconstruction Era and emancipation of the slaves. Cultivation of rice was a significant development in South Carolina plantation farming. Rice became a staple in Low Country cooking. There was a profound influence in food from the African slaves. Many new African foods and cooking techniques were introduced. Okra, yams, black eyed-peas, collard greens, sesame seeds, watermelon and deep fat frying all came from Africa. Appalachian mountain pioneers were English, Scotch, Irish and German. They left their mark through brining, sweet and sour preserves, pickles, chow-chow, relishes and wild game cooking. Typical ingredients or dishes are; Ambrosia, Bibb lettuce, Biscuits, Hoppin’ John, Brunswick Stew, Catfish, Chow-Chow, Cornmeal, Country Ham, Crackilings, Frogmore Stew, Grits, Hoecakes, Hush Puppies, Muscadine, Okra, Peanuts, Pecans, Red-eye Gravy, Succotash, and Vidalia Onions.
Floribbeans Cuisine, also known as New Era Cuisine, has become one of the most innovative regional cooking styles. Florida is influences by Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas and Africa. Florida’s most diverse cities are Tampa and Miami. Before th turn of the century Tampa was the center of the US cigar manufacturing industry. In 1959 Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba and many Cubans left, traveling the 90 miles to Florida. South Florida also has the second large metropolitan Jewish population due to Northern retirees. The Spanish first arrived in Florida in the 1500’s bringing cattle and pigs. Florida’s rich soil produces sugarcane, tomatoes, beans and citrus. The Caribbeans brought spices such as turmeric and saffron. Drying, smoking and spices rubs are used in cooking. Hot sauces and spicy food are found here as well as in other hot climates. Hot spicy foods promote sweating, which cools the body down. Typical ingredients and dishes are; Adobo, Arroz con Pollo, Avocado, Banana Leaf, Beans, Boniato, Cassava, Coconut, CONCH, Flan, Grouper, Guava, Hearts of Palm, or “swamp grass”, Jerk Seasoning, Key Lime, Sofrito, and Tamarind.
LOUISIANA’S CAJUN AND CREOLE “laissez les bon temps rouler”
Louisiana is defined as a “cultural gumbo” with a blend of seven major influences; Native American, French, Spanish, German, English, African and Italian. Cajun cooking is defined as earthy, and robust- country cooking. It is based on the food that was indigenous to the area and one pot meals that contained a variety of ingredients from the “swamp-floor pantry”. Developed by the Acadians from Canada who were forced out by the British in the second half of the 18th century. Creole cooking began in New Orleans as “city food” considered more sophisticated and complex. Spaniards governing New Orleans named all European heritage residents as Criollo, “native to the region” and later became Creole. Typical Cajun and Creole dishes are; Alligator, Bananas Foster, Beignet, Blackend food, Bread Pudding, Cafe au Lait, Cane Syrup, Crawfish, Creole cream cheese and mustard, Dirty Rice, Etouffee, File Powder, Frog, Gumbo, Jambalaya, King cake, Muffuletta, Pecan Praline, Po’Boy, Red Beans and Rice, Tabasco.