Oh! How my heart sighs for my own native land,
Where potatoes, and squashes, and cucumbers grow,
Where cheer and good welcome are always at hand,
And custards and pumpkin pies smoke in a row:
Where pudding the visage of hunger serenes
And, what is far better, the pot of baked Beans.
Let Maryland boast of her dainties profuse,
Her large water-melons and cantelopes fine,
Her turtles and oysters and terrapin stews,
And soft crabs high zested with brandy and wine;
Ah! neither my heart from my native land weans,
Where smokes on the table the pot of baked Beans.
The pot of bak’d beans! With what pleasure I view it
Well season’, well pork’d by some rosy-faced dame,
And when from the glowing hot oven she drew it,
Well crisp’d and well brown’d to the table it came.
O give me my country, the land of my teens,
Of the plump Indian pudding and pot of baked Beans.
The pot of bak’d beans! Ah! the muse is too frail,
Its taste to descant or its virtues to tell;
But look at the sons of New England so hale,
And her daughters so rosy; ‘twill teach thee full well;
Like me it will teach thee to sigh for the means
Of health and of rapture – the pot of baked Beans.
Signed: A Yankee.
The second amusing story concerns the myth of the Sabbath beans – I think we are all agreed that it is a myth? Several nineteenth century magazines repeat the following nice piece of supporting ‘evidence’:
“Baked beans were always the only fashionable meal for Sabbath noon in Massachusetts. A minister who is a very correct mathematician, and a bit of a wag withal, has computed that he preached regularly every Sabbath afternoon to fifty-five bushels and three pecks of baked beans, while their owners were asleep.”
As for the recipe for the day, I was going to give you the earliest one I have found so far for simple ‘baked beans,’ as distinct from Boston baked beans. The earliest I have come across so far was from a magazine article in 1833, but it was virtually identical to the Boston baked beans recipe given on Friday. This may or may not be evidence that Boston baked beans are the real thing, and I leave you to consider this.
Instead, I give you the first cookery book version. It is from the prolific Lydia Maria Child’s The American Frugal Housewife (1835), and appears under the heading ‘Beans and Peas.’ Mrs Child does not used molasses or any other sweetener in her baked beans, but does advocate the addition of pepper for health reasons.
Baked beans are a very simple dish, yet few cook them well. They should be put in cold water, and hung over the fire, the night before they are baked. In the morning, they should be put in a colander, and rinsed two or three times; then again placed in a kettle, with the pork you intend to bake, covered with water, and kept scalding hot an hour or more. A pound of pork is quite enough for a quart of beans, and that is a large dinner for a common family. The rind of the port should be slashed. Pieces of pork alternately fat and lean are most suitable; the cheeks are the best. A little pepper sprinkled among the beans, when they are placed in the bean-pot, will render them less unhealthy. They should be just covered with water, when put into the oven; and the pork should be sunk a little below the surface of the beans. Bake three or four hours.
Quotation for the Day.
I like refried beans. That's why I wanna try fried beans, because maybe they're just as good and we're just wasting time. You don't have to fry them again after all.