Early Spring Food

I’m thinking about historical foods today. Not the kitschy vintage ones with Jell-O. Not the elaborate feasts of nobility and aristocracy. I’m thinking about what pioneers and peasants would have eaten at this time of year when the bottoms of the barrels of salt pork were getting scraped and the last of the potatoes had started sprouting alongside the remaining withered apples. Perhaps some legumes and staples such as cornmeal and flour were available. Perhaps not. 

Dandelions might have appeared on the table. Yes, they are bitter. I like a few leaves in my salads. I’ve never tried them cooked, but I’ve heard they’re good that way. 

If one lived near water, perhaps a fish could be had. Or maybe a smoked one from the previous fall would be available. 

Did they keep cows? Goats? Maybe a little hard cheese was on hand. 

This is the time of year when all of a cook’s creativity needed to be in play to make sure that everyone made it through to later days of spring when a somewhat wider variety of food would be available. Survival came first, and if you could make something appealing on top that, you had done your job well, indeed.

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