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Liederkranz Lament

March 2023
1min read

John Steele Gordon writes, “Even aside from cheese, wholly North American foodstuffs are notably few in number, the cranberry and maple syrup being about all the native delicacies we have to offer.”

As I recall, when my first ancestors arrived from England, they found my Algonquian ancestors raising maize, beans, and squash (the “three sisters”) and hunting wild turkeys, woodchucks, porcupines, and opossum. Farther South they were harvesting pecans and making hominy and Brunswick stew. All around were blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, huckleberries, dewberries, gooseberries, wild grapes, watercress, mountain cress, and sassafras.

In 1400 A.D. Mr. Gordon’s ancestors never heard of: “Irish” potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanuts, vanilla, chocolate, tomatoes, pineapples, papaws, chayotes, chili peppers, bell peppers, Northern pike muskellunge, perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, green sunfish, bluegills, shad, Atlantic croakers, red drumfish, Maine lobsters, tuna, abalone, cherrystone clams, blue crabs, Olympia oysters, wild rice, caribou, moose, et cetera—all native to North, South, or Central America.

What a dull diet in Scotland! No wonder Mr. Gordon’s forebears liked haggis—an amalgam of minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf, mixed with suet, onions, and oatmeal and boiled in the animal’s stomach.

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