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Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Foods My Puritan Ancestors Ate ... We Enjoy Today

I am working on my Day line in a family history book to pass on to family members. Besides the names and dates I am looking to add some history plus what life was like for them.

Robert and Mary Day emigrated from Ipswich, England to Boston in April 1634 aboard the ship Elizabeth. Sadly Mary died shortly after arriving. Shortly after Robert left Boston and went to Hartford Conn. It is believed that the reason Robert DAY moved to Hartford was that he was following a pastor Thomas HOOKER (1586-1647), who had recently emigrated from England in 1633. From 1626 to 1629. HOOKER , an English Puritan pastor and preacher aroused church officials at this church of St. Mary at Chelmsford, Essex, England, with his popular sermons of Puritan ideas.
Robert married Editha STEBBINS. Robert and Editha are one of my 8th great grandparents and had four children. I am a descendant of their second son John .

So today's question was "what was the food like in Colonial Times?"
The plain Puritan people with a plain Puritan ethic brought with them a plain Puritan aesthetic to the shores of New England. English cooking was the model -- boiled meats, casseroles, and puddings -- heavy, filling foods that combat the cold and did not offend God by being too fussy and decadent. The Native Americans also had an influence on colonial cuisine, both in the ingredients they introduced, such as corn, beans, and maple sugars, and the methods they used.
Their frequent use of maple syrup to flavor foods, nearly as often as we now use salt, may be why American food so tends towards the sweet: yams, honey-roasted ham, sweet relishes with roasted meats. Despite its meager, rocky soil, New England proffered a bounty of raw ingredients, fish of all kinds -- especially cod, which was salted for the winter -- and shellfish. One colonial diarist moans that he is forced to eat lobster for every meal: lobster lobster lobster! ( Today if we want lobster it is a pricy treat). Game, too, filled the air and the fields: venison, goose, turkey, and pheasant. All sorts of berries (cranberries, blueberries, strawberries) and nuts covered the hills. Pigs thrive in most every condition, and the harsh New England winters made no exception. Salt pork seems the one ingredient that no recipe lacks. For many years, New England was the launching site for migrations into uncharted country, and her tastes traveled as far as the Pacific Northwest, where you can still get a blueberry cobbler made from an old Maine recipe. Famous still are one-pot stews that can be made year-round. Succotash combines Lima beans, hominy (called "samp" when made from white corn and "hulled corn" when made from yellow corn) and a goodly amount of salt pork. Stewed in a hundred and one variations, Succotash became a beloved staple of the diet. Baked beans, too, combine beans and salt pork, and there are great debates over the proportions between the two. The mix of beans and pork is traditionally put into a cast iron pot, and buried, Native American-style, in a deep, coal-filled fire pit. Or, the beans are cooked in a brick oven.

Boiled puddings combined English dessert with Native American ingredients; corn flour and molasses were staple favorites, and the Indian puddings and steamed brown bread still survive, ever popular. In these foods, you can taste the British and colonial fondness for Indian spices: mace, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
This information was found at http://www.cuisinenet.com/glossary/newengl.html.
I will be in search for more data on Puritan life to add ... to be continued.. Grace

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