Happy birthday, America!
Grab a frothy beverage and take a seat. It’s time for a delicious adventure with me! Here be a 5-part series about cuisine all around the world, from the purple mountains majesties of the U.S. to the crystal blue coasts of Tahiti. This is Part 2: Colonial Foods. You can find Part 1: Tasty Tahiti here.
Ready to drool? Let’s get started!
On this day in 1776, 244 years ago, the U.S.A. was born. To celebrate the U.S.’s independence, I’ve procured 5 meals that were popular in U.S. during the 1700’s.
Trade back then was not as quick or convenient as it is today (between Amazon, Walmart and – well – cars), limiting what settlers could eat and buy. Just as it does now, but especially back then, food varied quite a bit from not only area to area and season to season, but to class status as well. The higher classes ate very differently from the middle and lower classes, and even more differently from slaves and servants. America during Colonial Times was a melting pot of different cultures, giving it a rich cultural history in cuisine that fused flavors from across the world in a single nation.
Come with me on a foodie journey as we learn about 5 dishes eaten in the U.S. during the 18th century.
Named for the weight of its ingredients, Pound Cake was made from a pound of flour, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, and a pound of eggs (yes, you read that right – a pound of EGGS) — along with whatever flavors they wanted to include. Nowadays, we measure our ingredients in cups and spoons but this wasn’t always the case. Starting in the early 20th century, American cookbooks were published with both measurements in order to smooth the transition to our modern measurements today — but before then it was all in weight, baby.
Pound cake was (and is) a sweet dessert comprised of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and in the 18th century could include alcohol, caraway (also known as fennel), currants, lemon, and other fruits or nuts. The first published recipe for Pound Cake can be found in the first U.S. cookbook, American Cookery, published in 1796.
Noted to be a cornerstone of Southern U.S. cuisine, cornbread was adopted by European settlers when they learned how to make cornmeal from indigenous peoples in the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek tribes. Settlers substituted wheat flour with cornmeal to bake breads and other flour-based foods due to its convenience and easier access. Ever since, it became a staple of American cuisine.
Best baked with buttermilk and bacon grease, I’ll take my cornbread with bbq ribs and a tangy pasta salad any day of the week. Let’s not even get into the sugar-or-no-sugar debate, oh boy. (Full disclosure — Sugar rocks. Fight me.)
Pepper Pot Soup
Originating in West Africa, Pepper Pot Soup was introduced to the Americas by African cooks in the West Indies. Savory and thick, this spicy Philadelphia concoction was traditionally made with vegetables, beef tripe, and a lot of seasonings stewed for roughly 4-5 hours. Many recipes include veal, mutton, ham, and brisket, but the most defining features of it are its strong spicy taste and thick texture.
Anyone who attributes this dish to Christopher Ludwick is sadly misinformed, but it’s a fun story to tell: one legend says the army cook Christopher Ludwick invented the dish out of scrap to feed George Washington and his starving soldiers at the Valley Forge. While we can’t pinpoint who invented this delectable dish, we know it likely came from the West Indies and came to the Americas through immigration. It was popularly cooked and served by Black Philadelphians during Colonial times.
These delicious little crab patties were stewed with nutmeg, wine, and seasonings, then mixed with bread crumbs, egg yolks, and vinegar. Food experts say fish pies/cakes have been around for millennia, but crab cakes proliferated in America when English settlers were introduced to the colonies bringing unique recipes to the fold.
The term “crab cake” wasn’t used until at least the 20th century. Instead they started recipes with “to stew crabs”, “crab patties”, “crab croquettes”, or (my favorite) “to dress crab”.
Okay, okay, not food, but hear me out. Originally called “spruce beer”, root beer was a low-alcohol content small beer brewed with the roots of medicinal plants such as sarsaparilla and sassafras. It was actually marketed as a health beverage, despite that settlers often used molasses as a sweetener and fermenter.
Of course, now it’s a non-alcoholic syrupy soda favored by children and adults everywhere… It’s funny to think it got its origins as a medicinal alcoholic beverage.
So that does it for today — 5 U.S. Foods from the time it was founded. Enjoy the fireworks, stay safe, don’t drink and drive, and eat some barbecue for me! Oh and happy birthday, America.
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—Lindsey, the Sun Bliss Luxury Blogger
Ia Orana! My name is Lindsey and I am a luxury travel specialist from Minnesota.
I have trudged through blinding white winters, trekked through state fairs during horrid humidity, and come out the other end looking for a more blissful day in the sun. My agency is Sun Bliss Travel, which uses its industry connections and specialized knowledge to design magical luxury vacations for travelers who want unforgettable VIP experiences.
But I am not just an agent or a (woman-led) small business owner — I’m an avid traveler myself who loves sunsets, cats, coffee and cooking. I live in Minnesota with my adorable fiance and together we’ve built a life full of love, fun and bliss.