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AMERICAN FOODS WE ENJOY

AMERICAN FOODS WE ENJOY ORIGINATED IN FAR LANDS MANY CENTURIES IN THE PAST

By Helen Robertson
GOD BLESS AMERICA," we are singing with fervency and with a prayer in our hearts this year.  We are parading today, picnicking, boating, driving, lolling on front porch and lawn.  We are feasting on foods that are American, that are grown on our own native shores.  Their origin may go back many centuries and to distant lands, their use may have passed through transitions and changes such as are now being unrolled before our eyes.
     There are the summer apples, for example, that we will be using for frying for breakfast, in apple sauce and in pies for dinner.  America is the greatest apple country in the world today.  The fruit is thought to have originated from the wild crabapple tree in Europe.  Remains of them are to be seen in the prehistoric lake dwellings in Switzerland.
Beans for Votes.
    
Will there be succotash, or green beans, with the fried chicken?  Some varieties of beans were grown in Switzerland and northern Italy in the bronze age.  When first grown in Egypt, they were regarded as unclean by the priests.  And at one time the Greeks and Romans used them to buy votes for the election of the magistrates... An interesting note for election year.
Potatoes Made Fashionable.
    
The same gallant who removed his cloak, placing it over the mud puddle that the queen might not soil her dainty slippers.  Sir Walter Raleigh is accredited for introducing potatoes into Ireland and making them fashionable there.  They are a native of Peru, were early grown in Chile and Columbia and were widely cultivated when the Spaniards came to America.
Corn on the Cob.
    
Sweet corn generally makes its appearance about the Fourth of July.  Corn is a native American food.  It is thought to have grown wild on the plateaus of Mexico and Central America thousands of years ago.  It was used as a food by the Indians centuries before the era of Columbus.  With them it was a symbol of their prosperity, and played a significant part in their religious ceremonies.  The Hopi tribes helped the corn to grow tall and strong by performing the butterfly dance of young men and maidens.  The Iroquois marked the period of gathering corn by a four day green corn festival.  It has, of course, passed through many stages of cultivation to become as we know it today.
Lettuce and Cherries.
    
Lettuce, our chief salad green, is probably a native of the Greek Islands.  In England the type generally known as romaine, still, or until recently, bore the name cos lettuce, after the island of Cos (now Stanchio) of the Aegean Sea, the birthplace of Hippocrates.  It was recognized for its health value early in the Christian era.
     Lettuce was first served in England in 1520, and King Henry the Eighth conferred a special reward upon the gardener who devised the combination of "lettuce and cherries" for the royal table.  A salad note for modern hostesses.
Spices and Wars.
    
The spice shelf in the kitchen looks innocent enough.  We take down a can of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg to sprinkle on the apple pie, or the apple sauce, and replace it again without a second thought.  Yet, the history involved in the production of that small package, which has been purchased for only a few cents, is comparable in tragedy and welfare to that which we read in the papers today.
     In the early times spices, because of their scarcity, were held in extremely high esteem.  They were included in the tribute paid to Solomon, and were indispensable ingredients in the sacred oil of the tabernacle.  "Unspeakably vile is the later history of Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg, the clove, vivid with many a blood-stained strocity," states one authority.
Ice Cream, Not New.
    
The making of ice cream originated in Italy, about 1600 A.D., perhaps earlier, and spread thence to France, through France to England.  From England to the American colonies.  Dolly Madison is said to be the first to introduce it to her guests.
     So today, as we sit down to enjoy the Fourth of July feast whether it is served at home or on the picnic grounds, we are partaking of the products of modern science and manufacture, and some, too, which come to us through centuries of use.

 
 

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