Wondering about wild grapes

Monday, August 30, 2010

Local Foods

A lot of the blogs I have been reading lately are showing or talking about food. It kind of got me a wondering again. You used to be able to tell where you were just by the food that was being served and the smells of it cooking. You know, like flying into an airport and smell the food cooking. Back 30 years or more, food was more localized then it is now.

Let’s go way back to the Civil War. The Yankees didn’t burn the fields of “cow peas” because they thought they were only good for cattle feed. I smile about that every time I enjoy a bowl of black eyed peas, with maybe some purple hull peas mixed in. That Yankee mistake helped feed some of the southern families.

Let me give you another example from my personal experiences. Back when I first moved to Texas around 1980, I didn’t know what a lot of things listed on the menu were. For instance, what the heck is “chicken fried steak” or “corndogs”? Made sense after I saw what they were, but you wouldn’t believe what all was going through my mind trying to picture what they were. And another thing, at that time period in Pennsylvania, no one ate catfish. Myself, I was only familiar with mud-cats. Didn’t know what a channel cat was. But my first taste was a joy and a very pleasant surprise.

And Tex-Mex foods, what a treat. Mexican food served in restaurants up north was a pitiful laugh when you could find it. When I first moved to this area, one of the workers brought in some home-made tamales and offered me one. Everyone in the office was watching me and when I tried to bite into one, they all started laughing and laughing. Someone was nice enough to tell me that the corn husks should be removed before you ate them.

Of course a Texan of that time period would be equally confused with a menu in Pennsylvania. Things like Pierogi, Kolbasa, and Goulash. Of course he would have to wash it down with Iron City Beer instead of Lone Star Beer.

The examples could go on forever and for different locations, but you get the idea. What do you think; is the ethnic food types spreading and diluting as time goes on?


  1. Your food story reminded me of the first time I took my boss, ( from upstate NY) out for lunch. Chicken Fried Steak, with gravy on the side. He'd never seen gravy!!
    As for recipes, Ann was from W. Va and made me some short ribs and kraut once. I though she was nuts putting those beautiful ribs into a pot of stuff.. but of course it turned out good. She never did learn how to make cram gravy though.

  2. The northeast had a lot of German and Polish influence as far as food goes. I loved Pierogies and Halupki. There was a little bar that I used to eat lunch at duing my early working days that served both.