Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Going Colonial.

Today, September 5th

A reader called ‘Pootentate’ asked for ‘something Colonial’, which is a broad brief indeed. I assume the request is for something American Colonial, which is still a very broad brief. I hope my choice is broadly acceptable!

The settlement of Rhode Island, Providence was established in 1636 by an English clergyman called Roger Williams and some of his flock. On the anniversary of two-hundred years of settlement an ‘Indian Banquet’ was held, “in the style of the olden time”, presumably to acknowledge the Native people and the help they gave the early colonists. It was a simple, sustaining meal, straight from the land.

“An Indian mat being spread out, a large wooden platter well filled with boiled
bass graced the centre, supported on one side by a wooden dish of parched corn,
and on the other by a similar one of succotash.”

I felt last week that my story on sunflowers had something lacking. Paying homage to Vincent van Gogh and his sunflower paintings somehow led me to an ‘artistic’ salad recipe, which is hardly an appropriate way to pay homage to the plant itself. I can now redress that omission. As I said in that story, it was the Indians of North America who first domesticated and cultivated the sunflower for its valuable seeds. They often used it along with other grains and seeds to make ‘bread’, but according to the 1920 book Zuni Breadstuff from the Museum of the American Indian foundation, sunflower seeds could also be an authentic ingredient in the quintessentially American dish called ‘succotash’ which featured on the anniversary banquet table.

Succotash is essentially a dish of corn and beans boiled together, and the name comes from the Algonquian (Narragansett) word msíckquatash, referring to boiled whole-kernel corn. Other things are added in modern versions (the human race has an irresistible urge to fiddle with perfectly good recipes) including such things as tomatoes, butter, cream, peppers and even meat, but the corn and beans are obligatory.

Here is the ‘recipe’ for Succotash from the Zuni Breadstuff cookbook.

“The delicacy of the year was the far-famed succotash, made by scraping the milky kernels from the ears, mingling them with little round beans, which had now come to be domesticated, and with bits of fresh meat, the whole being seasoned with salt, thickened with sunflower-seeds, suthl'-to-k'ia, or piñon-nut meal, and boiled until reduced to an almost homogeneous stew.”

Tomorrow’s Story …

Kiwi Food.

Quotation for the Day …

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. Douglas Adams


Anonymous said...

Thanks for going Yankee today O.F.! Hope you're having a terrific holiday!

Anonymous said...

Hi! This is interesting as my ancestors must have been there. I still love Succotash.