Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

North Carolina is the number one sweet potato producer in the country. I love sweet potatoes and buy them at least every other week, so I’m always on the hunt for easy healthy recipes. I’m way behind in reading my food blogs but I’m so glad I didn’t mark them all as “read” or I wouldn’t have seen this post dedicated to sweet potatoes at the Poor Taste Almanac blog. I have a feeling I’ll make all five recipes.

When autumn arrives, I start making more winter squash and using more wintery herbs. And I get excited about the seasonal beers that start hitting the shelves. I love the season’s darker brews but I also love trying the pumpkin ones too, although one per session is usually enough for me, unless it’s a big bottle of a certain Colorado brew. Serious Eats takes us back through the history of pumpkin beers in the U.S.

During the Civil War Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday by proclamation. I didn’t realize that’s when it became official until I read this New York Times article by Andrew F. Smith, author of Starving the South: How the North Won the Civil War, about food distribution in the North and South during the war. Food was definitely a contributing factor to the war’s outcome: “60,000 Confederate soldiers deserted in the last four months. The No. 1 reason was they didn’t have food. No. 2 was they did not have money — which they could have used to buy food. And No. 3, based on letters from soldiers’ families…, was, “We’re going to starve unless you come home and help us plant.”

Later in history, in the early 20th century, the garlicky stinky un-American pickle was the target of moral outrage, according to Jane Ziegelman, author of 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement. Pickles, the gateway food to alcoholism! It’s interesting to see how cooking classes (and bland food) were used to encourage assimilation. Thank goodness our kitchens have been positively influenced by wave after wave of recent immigrants. 

Don’t read this if you’re hungry. In my world there are few things better than a really good sandwich. The website GOOD is looking for “the most culturally significant, locally-sourced sammies from each state.” It’s no surprise that northern and southern Californians are fighting over their state’s sandwich nomination. Although I was a northern California gal, my preference for an In-N-Out burger over a veggie sandwich aligns me with the southern side. I can live with that this one time only. The Massachusetts nomination? The Fluffernutter! Mmm, might be time to dig into my tub of Fluff. I don’t know the particular sandwich nominated for DC; my favorite Italian sub was from The Italian Store in Arlington, VA. The official Virginia entry is a soft-shelled crab sandwich. Oh my god, yes. Swoon. North Carolina? Pulled pork, of course. My life in sandwiches.

sandwiches pumpkin beer sweet potatoes thanksgiving civil war food

Pulled pork sandwich photo by Joshua Bousel/Flickr

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