What they ate in Colonial Virginia


    apple tansey.jpg

    Next Monday, I’m taking a Minneapolis Community Education cooking class called “Foods of Lewis and Clark Expedition”. Will there be elk and hardtack? Am I gonna learn how to cook pemmican with suet? Will we all just sit around and feel hungry for a while, for maximum realism? I have absolutely no idea. But it’s going to be fabulous. And I’ll be sharing what I learn here. In the meantime, though, I wanted to direct your attention to a couple of fascinating posts at cooking blog The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

    There, Tori Avey delves into the foods available to Colonial Virginians, and how those people turned those foods into a generalized menu. And then, there's a recipe for apple tansey—a sort-of moderately sweet, crispy apple omelet thing (pictured above). Avey's also given Tudor England the same treatment. As someone who loves both history and food, I’m super excited to find a blog series like this one!


    In frontier outposts and on farms, families drank cider or beer and gulped down a bowl of porridge that had been cooking slowly all night over the embers… The southern poor ate cold turkey washed down with ever-present cider. The size of breakfasts grew in direct proportion to growth of wealth… It was among the Southern planters that breakfast became a leisurely and delightful meal, though it was not served until early chores were attended to and orders for the day given… Breads were eaten at all times of the day, but particularly at breakfast.


    Early afternoon was the appointed hour for dinner in Colonial America. Throughout the seventeenth century and well into the eighteenth century it was served in the “hall” or “common room.” While dinner among the affluent merchants in the North took place shortly after noon, the Southern planters enjoyed their dinner late as bubbling stews were carried into the fields to feed the slaves and laborers… In the early settlements, poor families ate from trenchers filled from a common stew pot, with a bowl of coarse salt the only table adornment… The stews often included pork, sweet corn and cabbage, or other vegetables and roots which were available…


    Supper was a brief meal and, especially in the South, light and late. It generally consisted of leftovers from dinner… In the richer merchant society and in Southern plantation life, eggs and egg dishes were special delicacies and were prepared as side dishes at either dinner or supper.

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    What they ate in Colonial Virginia


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