Monday, October 5, 2015

Agricultural Laborer in New York, A History

Laborers in an agricultural work camp in Bridgeton, New Jersey purchasing Ice cream from a truck that made daily visits, 1942.  (Courtesy of the Library of Congress) recipes below.

It's Hispanic History Month! Salvadore Cordero migrated from Puerto Rico to New York in 1952 when he was thirty-years-old. In Puerto Rico he had done construction and worked in the sugar fields cutting cane. During World War II, he worked on a U. S. military base in Puerto Rico. When he first came to New York in 1952, he performed agricultural labor on farms in upstate New York, which was common among Puerto Rican immigrants in the 1950s. Puerto Ricans represented a large segment of the agricultural workers in the Hudson River Valley just north of the city. They earned about $5.90 a day and endured poor working and living conditions on farms. They fought for many years before they gained “the right of self-organization in unions of their own choosing, and improvements in their wage scale to allow for a decent standard of living” said Fay Bennett, executive secretary of the National Sharecroppers Fund in 1959.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Hispanic History Month Throught the Lens of Food

Afro Brazilian street vender hawking food hauled on her head near a nineteenth century slave market in Rio
A prerecorded interview on Wisconsin Public Radio's show Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders. Food historian and blogger Frederick Douglass Opie is traces hominy, plantains, spicy peppers, and tomatoes through the Pre-Columbian cuisines of the Aztecs, Incas, and Arawaks to today. Curried Yucca Crab Cakes with Piquillo Pepper Sauce and Mango-Papaya Chutney anyone?

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Hot Dog King

Vendor selling food at in a stadium in 1905 (courtesy of the Library of Congress) 
We are starting a new series today about fanfare. It look  at the history of the industry responsible for feeding fans at sporting events. Our first story focuses on the hot dog. Harry M. Stevens (1855-1934) sold his first hot dog at the Polo Grounds in New York city and 1900. Before that time sausages had been sold in rolls. Stevens came up with the idea of selling hot sausage in a hot roll with mustard and/or a pickle. He correctly envisioned that people would prefer to eat something hot on cool fall day. His research also showed him that the sausage casing work well to retain the heat of the meat better than ham or hot roast beef sandwich. It wasn't long before Stevens discovered that baseball and football fans loved his hotdogs. The same was true of spectators at horse races, boxing matches, and other sporting events. 

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fan Fare

Harry M. Stevens (courtesy of the baseball Hall of Fame)
We are starting a new series today on fanfare. Today let's talk about who got things started. A native of Derby, England, the British entrepreneur Harry M. Stevens (1855-1934) is considered by most the father of the stadium food concessions industry. He migrated to the United States in 1882.  After a brief stay in New York, he settled in Niles, Ohio.  He started as a concessionaire selling scorecards at baseball games.  By the early 1890s he controlled concessions at Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, Washington DC (which had several pro teams and fields at the turn-of-the-century), Braves Field in Milwaukee, Fenway Park in Boston, the Coliseum in Chicago, and a number of important racetrack including Belmont Park and The aqueduct in New York (He also acquired concessions at sports venues in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico) He spent time studying the best kind of foods to market to fans. His most important strategy had been focusing on a limited menu of foods starting first with peanuts, soft drinks, and beer. He would go on to lease land and cultivate peanuts in Virginia which he shipped on rail road cars to the stadiums he controlled. His greatest discovery had been how to prepare, package, and serve the hot dog which will talk about tomorrow. 
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

School Food in the Jim Crow South Part 2

Restaurant Sign in Lancaster, Ohio 1936, National Archives Collection  
In Greensboro, North Carolina, black-owned Barry’s Grill was one of the most popular places in the city’s African-American community. Betty Johnson of Attalla, Alabama, briefly attended North Carolina A&T in the 1950s. At the time, it has been one of many HBCUs in the Jim Crow South. Before the 1960 student sit-in movement at the Woolworth’s and S. H. Kress store lunch counters, fear of white violence dissuaded her and other African-American students from eating at segregated restaurants for whites only in downtown Greensboro. Instead, they enjoyed the fried chicken and pork chops available at Barry’s Grill. 

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Monday, September 28, 2015

School Food in the Jim Crow South Part 1

Sudents Eating at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama circa 1900 (courtesy of the Library of Congress)
By this time in the semester, the newness of the college experience is gone for first-year students. it's around now that some began to complain about the cafeteria food and long for home cooking. before the civil rights movement, the majority of African American in the south attended historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) which received less state funding than white state schools. As a result administrators had to use leftovers in soups and stews to reduce their expenditures. As Lamenta Watkins Crouch a HBCU alum recalled, “If there was chicken and vegetables served one day, we knew there was going to be chicken vegetable soup the next day.” 

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Corn and Brazilian Street Venders

The image of above is an interpretation of a circa 1640 Pernambuco, Brazil sugar plantation. Below Street vender selling roasted corn (Courtesy of recipes below 
Lets continue are series on street venders today with a discussion of Brazilian foodways. In Brazil enslaved Africans received corn as part of their rations. When they had the time and space, enslaved Africans cultivated gardens which included corn. They ate and sold the corn they grew as street food grilled to a sweet perfection on street carts they made. Grilled Milho verde (green corn) did a brisk business in heavily trafficked pedestrian sectors of urban centers. The only thing green about the corn was the husk it grew in. 

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

SNCC, Food, and the Civil Rights Movement

Sharecroppers in U. S. South circa 1930s (courtesy of the Library of Congress)
In the 1960s Shirley Sherrod a native of Georgia worked as a SNCC organizer.  She and her husband  helped poor black farmers in the south develop and market food products that they could sell and thus become financially and politically independent. Financial independence gave the farmers the option to engage in the civil rights revolution at that time. SNCC's work help end the oppressive system of tenant farming, the crop lien system, and sharecropping in the post civil war south that kept so many black farmers from owning land. September is national mushroom month. The recipe below which includes cream of mushroom soup pairs well with this story because most of the ingredients can be grown in your subsistence garden.

Crock Pot Squash Recipe

2 pounds yellow summer squash or zucchini, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup peeled shredded carrot
1 can (10 1/4 ounces) condensed cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup flour
1 package (6 to 8 ounces) corn bread stuffing crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
Season with Old bay and fresh herbs of your choice to taste

In large bowl, combine squash, onion, carrot and soup. Mix vegetable broth and flour; stir into vegetables. Toss stuffing crumbs with butter and place half in slow cooker. Add vegetable mixture and top with remaining stuffing crumbs. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chickens and the Columbian Exchange

Jesse L. Hays near his chicken coop - Tallahassee, Florida, circa 1900  (Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)
September is national chicken month. Chickens were among the first contingent of passengers that arrived with Columbus on his second voyage in 1493. With few predators or diseases and left to feed freely upon the rich grasses, roots and wild fruits, they reproduced quickly. “There is some confusion about domesticated fowls. The turkey and Muscovy duck were certainly present in pre-Columbian America, and some think that a type of chicken was also,” writes Historian Alfred W. Crosby, Jr. He adds, “most of the chickens in America by 1600 were of European descent, plus a considerable number of guinea hens of African origin.”

Chicken Hash Recipe
1 (or more) fowl
Green Peppers
Evaporated Milk (large size can)

Cut fowl for fricassee and cook in sufficient water to barely cover, preferably the day before using.  One cup of white cooking wine can be substituted for one cup of water if desired.  Celery tops and onion can be included in the boiling process.  When tender, remove meat, strain stock and let cool. Cut meat into small cubes; put skin and gizzard through meat grinder. Peel enough potatoes to approximate, but not quite equal, the meat; cut meat in small cubes and parboil. Put ground-up chicken skin and fat from stock in large skillet over low flame.  Slice two or three green peppers and an equal amount of onion (depending on size and taste) and simmer in chicken fat until well done, but not brown. Add stock if necessary to keep from burning. Add chicken and potatoes. Stir until warm, sprinkle with flour; continue stirring, add salt, pepper and celery seed to taste.  Stir in one can evaporated milk and dilute with stock. Mixture should be creamy but not soupy. This dish takes time to prepare but can be made the day before and reheated when ready to use.  Original recipe called for butter and heavy cream.
The Pittsburgh Courier; February 19, 1949

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chicken Pilau, A History

Belulah Baptist Church food booth- White Springs, Florida,1995 (Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)
September is national chicken and national rice month. Chicken pilau is a traditional chicken and rice dish. The word pilau derives from the Persian word pilav or pilaw, which is also the origin of rice pilaf. The rice and chicken combination has its roots in Middle East and West Asian cookery.  Moorish (Berber) traders and travelers spread it across Africa, and enslaved Africans introduced it to the Americas during the African slave trade. It became especially common in Florida and other parts of the Americas. Chicken pilau, bogs, and Latin American arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) are cousins. Rice and chicken combinations cooked in Dutch ovens and cast-iron skillets have held global popularity for centuries because they are easy to cook and can feed large numbers of people.

Chicken Pilau Recipe
1 Chicken

Cut large fricassee chicken in pieces as for frying.  Cover well with water and cook slowly until meat is tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Most Southerners like a pilau highly peppered.  Add washed uncooked rice.  There should be three cups of liquid to every cup of uncooked rice.  Cover, stir once, and cook over a low fire until rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid, about twenty or twenty-five minutes.  Hard-boiled eggs are sometimes cut into pilau when done.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Cross Creek Cookery (1942)

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