Saturday, December 17, 2011

British Influences on North American Foodways: Eggnog Part I

Glass of Eggnog, recipes below
Colonial British North American Tavern
As part of my series on European influences on North American foodways let's turn to a classic holiday beverage—eggnog. I grew up associating with Christmas. I came across sources that mentioned “nogs” and “eggnog” that made me curious about the history of this Christmas drink. Eggnog has its roots in the winter drinkways of the British aristocracy back in Europe. Commoners would not have had the resources to have access to fresh milk and eggs. In the winter, the wealthy would at times drink their warm milk and egg beverage seasoned with pricey spices such as ground nutmeg and cinnamon and expensive liquors like brandy and sherry to keep it from spoiling. The concoction traveled across the Atlantic in the 18th century with several modifications after it arrived in colonial American taverns and homes. In colonial North America the abundant availability of dairy products and traded rum from the Caribbean made the drink popular among free commoners, white indentured servants, and enslaved Africans. Rum—the drink of the marginalized—became the substitute for the heavily taxed brandy and wine in the colonies. Here are some recipes you can try. More on this tomorrow.  


Maria said...

Reminds me of my grandma's recipe. She made the very best eggnog. We knew we hit the 'big time' when she allowed us, as children, to have a sip of the adult version.

Thanks for the memory!

P.S. My initial reaction to your post was: Oh, sweet jesus! I AM in love with eggnog. ;-)

enthusiastic cook said...

We used to make a traditional eggnog but subsequently adopted our friends' recipe that called for whipped egg whites, like a meringue. The eggnog was so thick, you had to eat it with a spoon. Now I would only use pasteurized eggs, though.

Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie said...


I have to say, I look forward to reading your comments, especially your, precious "Oh, sweet jesus! I AM in love with eggnog," that's a classic!

Do you have your grandma's recipe and can you share it with us--or at least with me off line!

Nikolas X[patriate] said...

I recently did a blog post where I linked to a photo you have of the colonial American tavern. Why? Because I was writing about the role of dogs in drinking culture! I have done research on the traditional English pub, colonial American tavern & inn, and other drinking places throughout history and geography (Chicago, Cincinnati). I'd seen a couple of renderings that had dogs, but I didn't have any on hand. Thanks for coming through in the clutch, I hope you enjoy the post!