Monday, December 06, 2010

Historical Holiday Dishes for the 1879 Table

Through Circle of Dishonor, beaten biscuits, maple fudge, stack cakes, and country ham are just a few of the dishes consumed by Nessa and her friends. We are coming into the holiday season and I thought it would be fun  to talk about the differences in today's holiday menus and those popular in Nessa's time. The popular choices for opening dishes were oysters on the half shell or fried oysters. This was followed by the soup: green turtle, burgoo, gumbo, or rabbit stew were popular choices.

Next up was the Christmas bird. Chicken was a little too ordinary to be selected for Christmas feasting, but there would be some sort of fowl on the menu. Roasted wild turkey with cranberry sauce might show up on Nessa's table, but it is just as likely the holiday bird would be duck, goose, quail, dove or pheasant. Oysters, giblets, sausages, and sometimes all of the above made their way into the dressing. Serve it up with mashed potatoes and gravy and you are not so far removed from our time.

Of course, the holiday table cannot just have one kind of meat. Bring on the bear? Yes, a nice roasted leg of bear with sauce poivrade or, if that doesn't strike your fancy, Beulah could serve up a saddle of venison with red currant jelly.  Either would go nicely with a roasted blend of squash, carrots, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and onions. Does that make you hungry? How about a nice coon with devil's sauce? A side of sweet potatoes baked with butter and brown sugar would set it off nicely. In Nessa's house, a tablespoon of bourbon might find its way into the baking dish with those sweet potatoes along with a sprinkle of orange zest. Yum!

I hope you've left room for dessert: there's molasses stack cake with dried apple filling, pumpkin and apple pie, bread pudding with bourbon sauce, and homemade fudge on the sideboard.

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