Hope everyone had a safe and fun filled 4th of July holiday! While munching down on hot dogs and watching the fireworks with the bug zapper doing its magic….not to mention the convenience of a nice cold beer only a mere 10 feet away in the kitchen, I found myself pondering what the 4th of July might have been like in 1776. I found the following fun article below (courtesy of Becky Hand, SparkPeople.com) and you get a real sense of how it might have been:
The Fourth of July is a time for flags, fireworks, food and fun! It’s also a time to remember that safe and convenient food has not always been readily available in our country. Today, the average person spends about 50 minutes in the kitchen each day preparing meals—about five minutes for breakfast, 15 minutes for lunch and up to 30 minutes for dinner. In colonial America, cooks would slave away over the stove for hours. Talk about your American Revolution!
However, some of our modern dining habits actually do bear similarities to those of our colonial ancestors. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, fruits, vegetables and baked products would have been familiar foods in colonial times. Colonial cooks used some of the same cooking methods we still use today, like frying, baking, broiling and boiling. And while the colonists enjoyed their coffee, tea, and hot chocolate like we do, they didn’t have a Starbucks in every neighborhood!
Not much else was the same. While we may not know exactly what George Washington ate for dinner on July Fourth, we do know several things about the preparation of foods in 1776. Here are a few highlights:
- Colonists had to make do with whatever food was in season. They prepared and ate it that day. Refrigeration didn’t exist, and canned foods wouldn’t be invented until ten years after General Washington’s death.
- If the colonists wanted a turkey for dinner, they would kill it early in the morning, cook it over an open fire and would eat it that day. Otherwise, it would spoil.
- The colonists didn’t worry at all about flies and bugs buzzing around their food. If it was summer, there were bound to be flies–and there were no screens on the windows or doors to keep them out. Our ancestors simply shooed the critters out before digging into their meal.
- If the colonists wanted to cook or bake, their only choice for a heat source was a wood fire. They didn’t have a digital thermostat to tell them when the oven reached 350 degrees! They judged the heat by the brightness and color of the flames.
- If a colonial family was lucky enough to own a cookbook, they had to decipher recipes that contained general measuring terms such as ”a teacup full of molasses,” ”a great spoon-full of ginger,” and ”a little milk.” They then baked the resulting pudding ”three or four hours.”
- The colonists used lots and lots of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to season food. In fact, the greasier, sweeter, and spicier the food, the better the meal!
- Raw fruits & vegetables were considered unappetizing, so they were boiled vigorously with lots of sugar added to make them tastier.
- When the colonists served meat (which was often), they usually left the head and feet of the animal attached.