Special Foods from Maine to Florida
While traveling speed and comfort have reached heights undreamed of a century ago, meals available to travelers have declined steadily in quality because the American is no longer the gourmet he once was. Nowhere are the democratic processes more evident than in the food-catering business; the restaurant keeper is up for reelection three times a day and must continually respond to the will of the majority if he is to avoid bankruptcy. If his constituents demand elaborate dining room furnishings and pantalets on the chop-bones rather than high-priced cuts of meat, if they prefer quick service in place of cooked-to-order dishes, or if they order a limited range of foods and ignore new ones, the restaurant keeper must fill the demands.
America has native foodstuffs in variety and of qualities unsurpassed in any other country, and American colonists early devised a large number of savory dishes. Delegates to the first Continental Congress were offered meals Lucullus would not have scorned. Even the austere John Adams, deeply engrossed in the affairs of the Colonies, found time to comment in detail on them. Up until the middle of the nineteenth century no account of an entertainment or meeting was complete without some mention of the menu.
There are many reasons for the decline in food standards. The sedentary occupations of city-dwellers have lessened the keenness of their appetites, and the tempo of modern life has left little time for them to test the quality of individual dishes, and even less time to wait for the preparation of special orders. More important in the decline has been the domestic revolution. Women have seldom had as great an interest in food as men have had, but when housekeeping was the only career open to them and compliments on satisfying meals were the chief rewards for service, they spent much of their time in shopping for choice foodstuffs, mixing, beating, paring, boiling, and baking. When new careers were opened to women and they were no longer dependent on cooking for their living, they and the manufacturers united to make the preparation of meals a short process. Today a pre-cooked dinner, from soup to nuts, can be bought and placed on the table in half an hour. The difference between a dinner created by mass-production processes and one prepared at home is as great as the difference between a ready-made suit and one tailored to order, but an eating public gradually accustomed to the ready-made meal has lost appreciation of the finer product.
While the fine old American dishes have in many places disappeared from restaurant menus because of the lack of demand for them, there are still restaurant keepers here and there who cater to the discriminating minority. For the benefit of those interested in the food specialties of the areas through which US 1 runs, the following lists have been compiled. Some of the dishes are offered in restaurants along the route, occasionally prepared according to the best traditions, more often in debased forms; others, relics of a more leisurely way of life, are found only in private homes. Fortunately, the art of preparation has not been completely lost, and food purveyors will be quick to respond to a demand for their revival.
APPLE FRITTERS: sweet milk, eggs, sugar, and salt, with slices of apple stirred into the batter; dropped into hot fat and fried until brown. Served with sugar and cream.
APPLE SLUMP: cored and sliced apples, seasoned with sugar and cinnamon. Dough is dropped on in separate spoonfuls. Baked and served with butter sauce.
OLD-FASHIONED PAN DOWDY: alternating layers of sugar, molasses, cinnamon, salt pork, and sliced apples, topped with thin crust. Baked in slow oven and served with thin cream.
STEAMED SUET PUDDING: flour, milk, molasses, sugar, seasoning, spices, suet, raisins, citron, currants, and almonds. Steamed and served with soft sauce.
BAKED INDIAN PUDDING: scalded milk, corn meal, and molasses, cooked until thick; sugar, egg, butter, and spices are added, and the mixture is baked. Served either hot or cold with whipped cream or hard sauce.
WOODS-STYLE PLANKED GAME FISH: fish is placed, skin side in, on live hardwood tree from which bark is stripped; salt pork or bacon strips are pegged just above fish for basting; cooked until brown with fire built two feet from tree. Served with drawn butter.
WOODS-STYLE BAKED GAME FISH: dressed fish is covered with an inch of wet clay and baked overnight in hot ashes of campfire; when clay is broken open, the fish meat comes out steaming. Served with butter.
1743 POLOE: fowl, rice, onion, and seasoning stewed together and served hot.
RED FLANNEL HASH: cooked beets, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and left-over corned beef or spare ribs, chopped, seasoned, and pan fried.
SOUSED CLAMS: freshly shucked clams stewed in vinegar. Served either hot or cold.
CLAM BAKE: clams, lobsters, crabs, green corn, sweet potatoes, and eggs cooked in rockweed on ledges heated by outdoor fire.
BOILED PIES: cider applesauce mixed with fritter batter and fried in deep fat.
EGGS CANADIAN: eggs scrambled with maple syrup.
ROAST VENISON: leg or saddle of venison thoroughly larded with pork, basted with claret while baking; served with gravy made from pan drippings, also with currant, barberry, or wild plum jelly.
BLANC MANGE: sea moss (picked up along the ocean beaches), milk, salt, and vanilla cooked until thick.
LOBSTER ROLL: roll filled with lobster, lettuce, and salad dressing.
PEPPER STEAK SANDWICHES: small steak and pepper relish filling.
FRIED CLAMS: dipped in batter of bread crumbs and fried in deep fat.
FISH AND CLAM CHOWDER: made with milk and no vegetables.
CODFISH BALLS: codfish mixed with potatoes and fried.
CRANBERRY TURNOVERS: biscuit dough fried in deep fat, then filled with cranberry sauce.
BOSTON BAKED BEANS: pea or kidney beans, salt pork, black molasses, sugar, and dry mustard, baked six to twelve hours.
BOSTON BROWN BREAD: yellow cornmeal, rye meal, soda, salt, molasses, and milk steamed for several hours.
NEW ENGLAND CHOWDER: clams, potatoes, onion, pork, and milk.
SUCCOTASH: corn stewed with green beans.
BAKED INDIAN PUDDING: cornmeal, molasses, sugar, egg, butter, milk, salt, ginger, and cinnamon baked in slow oven.
PARKER HOUSE ROLLS: flour, milk, salt, sugar, butter, and yeast; dough cut into circles, each of which is folded. These originated in the old Parker House, one of the famous hotels of Boston.
JOHNNY CAKE: white corn meal, well scalded, sugar, salt, milk, fried on a griddle.
CLAM CAKES: chopped clams, milk, flour, egg, and seasoning fried brown in deep lard.
CLAM CHOWDER: chopped clams, milk, butter, diced pork or bacon, fried sliced onion, seasoning, thickened with flour and served over soda or oyster crackers.
WHITPOT PUDDING: Indian meal, molasses, milk, and salt baked one hour. Served cool.
BROWN BREAD: yellow or white corn meal, milk, molasses, soda, flour, and salt steamed for three hours in crock.
INDIAN APPLE PUDDING: white meal, cut apples, sugar, salt, hot skimmed milk, and molasses baked for one hour; cold milk is then added and baking is continued four hours more.
OLD-FASHIONED MOLASSES COOKIES: molasses, granulated sugar, eggs, lard, and saleratus dissolved in sour milk or water.
CLAM BAKE: clams in shells, fish, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, onions, and sweet corn, separated by layers of rockweed, steamed half an hour over hot stones in barrel or trench.
BROILED LOBSTER: broiled over live coals; served with butter sauce.
SHORE DINNER: all available seafoods (clams, fish, lobsters, oysters, crabs) prepared in various ways.
CLAM BAKES: clams steamed on hot stones beneath a seaweed blanket.
SQUASH PIE: open face; made with baked squash (usually Hubbard).
MINCE PIE: double crust; home-made mincemeat moistened with cider.
COWSLIP OR DANDELION GREENS: picked before ready to bloom; cooked slowly with salt pork. Dandelion greens have been a standard "spring tonic" for generations, folk-medicine having recognized the signs of a marked vitamin-A deficiency without knowing anything about vitamins. The deficiency occurs less frequently today because green vegetables are available in winter.
BAKING POWDER BISCUITS: the Yankee "quick biscuit" is made only on individual recipes.
CLAM CHOWDER: hard clam stew made without tomatoes; tastes better the second day.
PUMPKIN PIE: open face, made with small, sugar pumpkins and smooth, flaky crust crinkled on the edge.
BAKED WOODCHUCK: special delicacy, particularly in early autumn when Johnny Chuck has rounded out by feeding on sweet clover.
ROAST RACCOON: available only after a hunt for the little washing bear.
RHUBARB PIE: either open face or double crust. Served with venison or turkey.
POVERTY RELISH: chopped cabbage, salt, and a dash of vinegar.
BAKED SPARE. RIBS: served cold or hot with brown gravy.
NEW ENGLAND BOILED DINNER: corned beef and cabbage.
OYSTER STEW: oysters steamed only until edges curl; served in own liquid mixed with milk heated below the boiling point; salt, pepper and butter added before serving.
SOFT-SHELL CLAMS: powdered lightly with flour and fried in hot bacon fat. Never dipped in batter before frying.
CAMP FIRE SWEET POTATOES: sweet potatoes mashed with egg, topped with marshmallows, and browned in oven.
BLUSHING BUNNY: cheese, egg and tomato puree, made as in Welsh Rarebit, served on crackers or toast.
POST ROAD PUDDING: sliced sponge cake sprinkled with sherry in which apricots and prunes have been placed; covered with a mixture of beaten eggs, sugar, milk, and vanilla, thickened over slow fire. Served cold with whipped cream, decorated with glacéd cherries.
UPSIDE DOWN CAKE: bottom of iron skillet is covered with melted butter, then with brown sugar and pieces of fruit such as pineapples, pears, peaches, apricots, and finally with cake batter. Baked in moderate oven. Served upside down with whipped cream.
BROILED T-BONE STEAK: broiled close to flame; after first searing on each side it is basted with melted butter well peppered and salted.
SUCCOTASH: corn and lima beans stewed together, a dish adopted from the Indians.
BEACH PLUM JAM: plums that grow wild on Sandy Hook; equal quantities of fruit and sugar.
NEW JERSEY CLAM CHOWDER: chopped clams, onions, carrots, potatoes; seasoned with thyme and a small amount of salt pork.
BULLY CLAM CHOWDER: large juicy clams, ground ripe tomatoes, green peppers, onions, parsley, spices, salt, and pepper.
CAPE MAY CLAM CHOWDER: clams drained and chopped fine, diced potatoes, onions, and lean salt pork; simmered for an hour after potatoes are soft.
SNAPPER SOUP: ground snapper, boiled slowly in salt water; crab meat, green peppers, thyme, parsley, small cubes ofJersey red-skin potatoes, garlic,~ salt, and red pepper.
SNAPPER STEW: snapper cut in small cubes cooked slowly; hard-boiled egg yolk, butter, cream, salt, nutmeg, and paprika are added. Served on toast.
Lowlands of south Jersey abound with snapping turtles, popularly known as snappers. It is a difficult job to get at the meat. The snapper is tickled on the nose with a stout stick. When he grabs it, the stick is pulled until he has fully unfolded his long neck. Then his head is chopped off behind the ears, after which he relaxes. A sharp knife is then inserted between the interstices in the side bridges that tie the lower and upper shells.
PLANKED SHAD: whole roe or buck shad split down back and placed on a hickory or white pine plank slightly larger than the fish; the plank is heated to the charring point, then propped upright before fire of hot coals.
PICKLED EELS AND MUSSELS: soaked in brine 48 hours, with spices and vinegar, served with lemon and chopped parsley.
THE LARGEST HOT DOG. IN THE WORLD: a New Jersey invention.
The " Pennsylvania Dutch" tradition of "seven sweets and seven sours" on the table at each meal is still evident in eastern Pennsylvania restaurants; in no other place are so many kinds of jelly and pickles routinely placed on the table along with the salt, pepper, sugar and catsup.
KARTUFFLE GLACE: boiled potatoes put through meat grinder, and added to flour, eggs, and melted butter; formed into balls the size of large marbles.
LENTIL SOUP: lentils with beef or pork and often potatoes.
FAGGOTS: pork pluch, consisting of the liver, heart, and lungs of a pig, chopped up and baked.
FROIS OR WELSH PANCAKES: giant pancakes sprinkled with currants and sugar, stacked high and cut across in quarters. Served piping hot with jelly.
SOUSE: pigs' feet; eaten cold or hot with vinegar.
SCHNrrz UN KNEPP: dried apples and dumplings cooked with or without a ham shoulder.
PORK FRITTERS: slices of pork tenderloin dipped in corn meal batter and fried.
APPLE BUTTER: sweet apples and sweet cider boiled into a rich paste, then cooled.
PHILADELPHIA SCRAPPLE: corn meal and ground pork, boiled and allowed to cool; it is then sliced and fried.
PHILADELPHIA PEPPER POT: white honeycomb tripe, veal, potatoes, onion, peppers, seasonings, and dumplings.
SAUERKRAUT AND DUMPLINGS: dumplings covered over with sauerkraut.
PIGS' KNUCKLES WITH SAUERKRAUT AND DUMPLINGS: dumplings made of flour and melted butter; pig's knuckles added and covered with sauerkraut.
SHOO-FLY: crumb pie made with molasses and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
MARYLAND BISCUITS: stiff dough beaten with a hatchet and baked in small hard cakes pricked with a fork.
MARYLAND FREED CHICKEN: young chicken cut in pieces, dipped in light batter, floured, fried in deep fat. Served with cream gravy and waffles or with corn fritters and bacon.
TIPSY PARSON: loaf of sponge cake stuck full of blanched almonds and saturated with sherry. Served with boiled custard, topped with whipped cream.
EGGNOG: yolks and whites of eggs beaten separately, with sugar, brandy, milk, and rich cream. Served particularly during the holidays.
SOFT CRABS: cleaned by removing sand bag, dead men and eyes; dipped in batter and cracker crumbs and fried in deep fat.
CREAMED HOMINY: soaked overnight, simmered for six hours, and creamed with butter, salt, and milk.
LADY BALTIMORE CAKE: white layer cake with filling of soft icing and chopped fruits and nuts.
PLANKED SHAD: boned, baked on hickory or other hardwood plank, and served on plank with trimmings of lemon and potato chips.
SALLY LUNN: unsweetened cake dough, raised with yeast; baked brown in deep dish.
STUFFED HAM: parboiled ham cut in even slices, alternated with chopped greens and spring onions; sewed in clean white cloth and boiled. When sliced, it reveals stripes of pink and green. Served particularly at Easter.
BRAISED MUSKRAT: boiled until tender, cut small, and baked with thick brown crust. Known to the trade as "marsh rabbit."
SWEET POTATO SOUTHERN: boiled Maryland sweet potatoes, mashed, mixed with beaten egg, cinnamon, cream, and brown sugar, topped with marshmallows, and baked in casserole.
KOSSUTH CAKE: a rich cake served with chocolate and whipped cream; by a Baltimore baker and first served at a reception given to Louis Kossuth, the Hungarian patriot, in the winter of 1851-52.
DIAMOND-BACK. TERRAPIN: boiled, skinned, and cut fine, blended with butter and sherry.
There was a time when terrapin were so plentiful that indentures stipulated that the servant should not be fed the food oftener than twice a week. H. L. Mencken pronounces terrapin the noblest of all victuals but warns against its desecration by the addition of sauces or condiments. Some Maryland gourmets decry the use of sherry as a flavoring but drink sherry (or Madeira) while eating it.
CORN PONE: yellow corn meal, water, salt, and shortening, baked.
CORN DODGER: meal, water, salt, and shortening, fried.
ASH CAKE: corn bread cooked in ashes near the coals of an open fireplace.
CRACKLING BREAD: corn bread with crisp bits of fat.
SPOON AND BATTER BREADS: thin mixtures of corn meal, eggs, milk, and shortening, baked.
BRUNSWICK STEW: squirrel, rabbit (the old recipes began "First catch your hare") or chicken, tomatoes, onions, okra, carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, butter beans, bacon, red pepper, corn, and salt. Originated in Brunswick County, Virginia; hence the name.
TURNIP GREENS AND COLLARDS: usually cooked with hog jowl.
FRIED HERRING: rolled in corn meal and fried till crisp; a breakfast dish.
HERRING CAKES: herring flakes mixed with eggs, potatoes, flour, or corn meal.
FRIED APPLE PIE: sliced apples mixed with sugar and spices and placed in a half moon of short pastry; fried in deep fat.
SMITHPIELD HAM: may or may not be peanut-fed; cured by months of exposure to the smoke of hardwoods. Soaked overnight and simmered half an
hour for every pound of ham. Slashed, prepared with a paste made of brown sugar and sherry, dotted with cloves, and covered with cracker crumbs. Baked and served cold; sliced very thin.
CHICKEN BRUNSWICK STEW: chicken, lima beans, corn, and tomatoes.
BARBECUED CHICKEN: while roasting, basted with sauce made of butter, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, and other seasoning.
BEATEN BISCUITS: made from flour, lard, salt, and sweet milk, beaten for half an hour, preferably on a marble slab; baked in a hot oven, and served cold.
SWEET POTATO BISCUITS: boiled mashed sweet potatoes added to regular buttermilk biscuit dough.
BAKED HAM: country cured from peanut-fed hogs; baked with a wine sauce.
SUCCOTASH: corn and lima or string beans; okra and tomatoes often added.
PEACH AND OTHER SHORTCAKES: made with a short unsweetened biscuit dough.
TIPSY CAKE: sponge cake, blanched almonds, and syllabub flavored with brandy, in layers, the whole moistened with scuppernong or Concord wine.
SALLY WHITE CAKE: pound cake batter, sherry, citron, coconut, blanched almonds, rose water, and mace; sometimes moistened with peach brandy.
SWEET PICKLED PEACHES: peaches cooked whole in a thick spiced syrup.
BRANDIED PEACHES: heavily sugared peaches fermented in a stone crock that is sometimes buried for a time.
WINE JELLY: jelly flavored with home-made scuppernong, blackberry, or Concord wine. Served with whipped cream.
SCRAPPLE: corn meal cooked in pork broth to consistency of thick mush, added to tender pieces of pork, seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion juice. When cold and firm, the moisture is sliced and browned in a hot skillet.
PERSIMMON PUDDING: fresh fruit, egg whites, sugar, milk, and corn starch, baked in a crust.
SWEET POTATOES: potatoes boiled, sliced, and baked in a butter and sugar syrup.
SWEET POTATO BISCUITS: boiled mashed potatoes added to biscuit dough.
SWEET POTATO PONE: grated raw potatoes mixed with sugar, molasses, milk, and ginger, then baked.
SWEET POTATO PUDDING: parboiled potatoes grated, mixed with butter, sugar, powdered cinnamon, lemon juice, and eggs, then baked.
JELLY PIE: blackberry or scuppernong grape jelly, butter, sugar, and eggs, baked in a crust.
CAROLINA OPOSSUM: meat cut in small pieces, soaked in salted water, stewed, and seasoned with lemon juice and currant jelly.
CAROLINA OPOSSUM AND SWEET POTATOES: opossum boiled whole, surrounded with baked yellow sweet potatoes, and basted with grease in which possum was boiled; baked until brown.
DEVILED BAKED HAM: soaked 18 hours in vinegar, sherry, and mustard; boiled in this sauce, then baked in quick oven.
FISH STEW: fresh-water fish stewed in large quantity of water seasoned with fat-back bacon, onions, tomato catsup, Worcestershire sauce.
HOMINY WAFFLES: cooked hominy, flour, milk, and melted butter.
CRACKLING CORNBREAD: meal, salt, boiling water, cracklings (crisp bits of pork left after lard rendering), molded into small oblong cakes and baked until brown.
TOSSOM AND 'TATERS: opossum, parboiled in salt water; highly seasoned and baked; served with sweet potatoes.
SOUSE MEAT: hog's head, ears, and feet stewed, mashed, seasoned, pressed, and sliced when cold.
TURNIP, GREENS: fresh and tender turnip tops, boiled with salt pork or smoked bacon.
CORN PONE: stiff dough of meal, water, and salt, baked in oblong pones.
SORGHUM PUDDING: pudding made with sorghum syrup and ginger, baked in a loaf, and sliced.
LEATHER BREECHES: dried green snap beans, soaked overnight and boiled with salt bacon.
BARBECUE: pork, beef, lamb, or chicken, turned frequently and basted with a sauce of vinegar, pepper, salt, and butter.
BRUNSWICK STEW: chopped beef, pork, tomatoes, corn, onion, peppers, and high seasonings.
FRIED PIES: pastry filled with dried or fresh fruit and fried in hot fat.
BOILED PEANUTS: Spanish peanuts in shell boiled in salt water until soft.
WAMPUS OR HUSH PUPPIES: corn meal scalded in milk, mixed with egg, baking powder, and onion, and cooked in the grease of frying fish. In early Florida days when fish were fried in large pans out of doors, the savory odor caused the family's pack of hounds to whine and yelp with hunger. As a means of quieting the dogs, the cook would hastily scald corn meal, pat it into cakes without salt or shortening, and cook it in the grease of frying fish.
When done, it was thrown to the dogs, after which silence prevailed; hence the name, hush puppies.
SWAMP SALAD: the raw bud of a palmetto tree (which has the taste of a green chestnut) served with salad dressing.
SWAMP, CABBAGE: the sliced bud of a palmetto tree boiled with salt pork until tender.
COMPTIE: the powdered root of a wild plant in south Florida; used as flour for making cakes or bread.
RATTLESNAKE SNACKS: meat of skinned snake cut into thin slices, salted, and smoked over hickory. Served as hors-d'oeuvres.
RATTLESNAKE ENTREE: meat boiled and served with supreme sauce.
FROMAJARDIS: ring-shaped baked cheese cakes with cinnamon; a cross is cut in rim of cake.
SEA TURTLE: sliced into steaks and fried.
FLORIDA GOPHER: sliced into steaks and fried over a low fire. (In Florida a gopher is a land turtle.)
GUAVA JELLY: made from ripe fruit and prepared as other jellies.
STONE CRAB: boiled in salted water until claws are salmon pink; meat is extracted and dipped in melted butter.
COPUINA COCKTAIL: chilled coquina broth, to which lemon juice and Tabasco are added; mixture churned in a cocktail shaker and served immediately. Coquina is an ocean shellfish about the size of a coffee bean.
CRAWHSH ENCHILADO: green and red peppers added to meat of crawfish and fried in olive oil.
ARROZ CON POLLO: rice colored and flavored with saffron, then boiled in pot with chicken.