This Year, Try a Corn Dish from the First Thanksgiving

Nasaump (2) Although there is no menu of the first harvest celebration that is usually called the first Thanksgiving, there are some sound ideas of what foods, if not precise preparations, were on the table.

Between 1620 and 1621 Edward Winslow, who arrived on the Mayflower and was a leader of the English settlement at Plimouth, wrote with William Bradford “Mourt’s Relation,” the full title of which was “A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimouth in New England.” Winslow wrote that “our Indian corn, even the coarsest, maketh as pleasant a meal as rice.”

The Thanksgiving celebration included at least 90 of the local Wampanoag, who we also know brought a good deal of the food and taught the settlers about growing crops. It is a safe bet that one of the foods made from “Indian corn” might have been nasaump, a kind of grits that used the type of multicolored flint corn the Wampanoag grew. READ MORE

Middle Eastern Meze Bring Many Cultures to the Table

Qara bi'l-Tahina (Arab Levant) (2) In the Middle East food is shared and one place it is shared is on the meze table. Meze are small samplings of prepared dishes that make a meal. They are not appetizers, nor tapas, nor hors d’oeuvres but are actually more philosophically related to the Scandinavian smorgasbord.

Food is shared in another way. The food of the Levant, meaning the food eaten between the Turkish-Syrian border all the way to Egypt, is the same food eaten by Muslims, Christians, and Jews. One can’t really say there is Muslim food, Christian food and Jewish food, but there are certain foods that are typical for those communities centered around holidays such as Ramadan, Christmas, and Yom Kippur, for example, but the foods are not unique to those cultures because everyone eats them.

One very typical, almost obligatory, meze dish is hummus. Hummus means chickpea and does not mean dip. The proper name of the preparation called hummus is hummus bi’l-tahina, chickpeas with sesame seed paste.

One delightful variation of this dip is made with pumpkin, all the more appropriate this time of year when Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. All the more so if we reflect on how much we can be thankful for especially at a time when the Middle East seems to be disintegrating into a frenzy of blood-letting. At a time when all religious communities, be they Jewish, Christian, Shiite, Sunni, Yazidi, Alawite, or Kurdish Muslim, are threatened in the Middle East and the stories from those lands are nothing but sadness, it behooves us to remember the rich contribution and integral role played by all these people who once –it is hard believe given the modern headlines — lived together. If there is one thing they all shared it was surely food. READ MORE

Three Dinners in One from a New England Classic

Boiled Dinner 1 (Zester) (1)

Careful thought can ease your workload considerably, if that’s how you think of cooking, by squeezing three dinners from one initial cooking. It’s a novel way of viewing leftovers in that you’re not using them so much as you are making leftovers to … [Continue reading]

Pumpkin and Pasta? Now That’s Italian!

Pumpkin Pappardelle with Pumpkin and Poppy Seed (4)

Pumpkin is an ideal bland food with a distinctive taste. That’s a good thing because it means you have to do something to the pumpkin to make it palatable and delicious. Typically, pumpkin pie is a solution, but nowadays it’s going into all kinds of … [Continue reading]

Sicily’s Eggplant Ceviche for Summer

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The end of summer offers the cook a wealth of sparkling fruits and vegetables for culinary transformation. One of my favorite dishes this time of year is a Sicilian preparation called mulinciana a schibecci, or eggplant ceviche. I don’t make this … [Continue reading]

Chile Blast Off Spaghetti

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Every once in a while I'm eating alone and I'm not testing recipes and I consider going out for a pizza or something similar.  Then I am suddenly overcome with the desire to eat something very specific--a craving-- that I simply must satisfy that … [Continue reading]

Want Authentic Clam Chowder? Can’t Go Wrong with Cape Cod.

Clam chowder

Of all the foods I get defensive about, clam chowder is high on the list. There are certain preparations that are so iconic, established and regionally rooted that I think it’s nonsense to say “oh, there are many interpretations.” In fact, I … [Continue reading]

It’s Real Fettuccine Alfredo. It Never Used Cream.

Fettuccine Alfredo (Lazio) (3)

The rise and fall of fettuccine Alfredo is a story of a simple dish taken from its home and embellished with flourishes before sliding into culinary familiarity, dullness and bastardization. Although it has its roots in Roman cuisine, it is … [Continue reading]

Pork Belly Roasted with Honey Balsamic Glaze Makes A Delicious Appetizer

Pork Belly, honey-balsamic roast (3)

Pork belly as it is sold by butchers and supermarkets includes the skin, fat layer, and some thin muscle streaks from the sides and belly of the hog. Belly is not stomach, but literally the belly. It’s most common use is as bacon. Bacon is the smoked … [Continue reading]

Techniques for Cooking Fish Don’t Have To Be Intimidating

Baked Swordfish with Golden Crust (CAWCOM) (2)

One of the oddest questions I get when serving fish is, “Does this fish have bones?” My answer is always, “Assume it does.” I answer that way to encourage people to eat slowly, to eat as if it does have bones, because all fish have bones. Even when … [Continue reading]

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