Saturday, June 10, 2023

Let’s Eat

 By Suzanne Norquist

People around America are planning Fourth of July festivities and other outdoor fun. Menus include hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, apple pie, and more. But are any of these foods really American? And what did the colonists eat to commemorate our country’s independence?

In 1776, the Founding Fathers celebrated at Philadelphia’s City Tavern. There wasn’t a hot dog in sight. Not a hamburger. Nor a watermelon. Legend has it that John Adams and his wife ate turtle soup, salmon, and peas.

The following year, in 1777, fireworks marked the first anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Revelers likely enjoyed these same foods, which became a tradition.

The soup remained on the menu for many years. However, with a decline in the turtle population, cooks switched to mock turtle soup (made with veal). However, this difficult-to-prepare dish didn’t taste the same.

In early July, the salmon run, and new peas are ready to harvest, making them a natural choice for the national celebration. Many New Englanders still serve the combination on Independence Day.

With wild pigs abundant in the south, barbequed pork joined the celebrations relatively early. It was an easy way to feed a large crowd. Other meats were barbequed as well. As settlers from the south moved west, they took the tradition with them.

Hot dogs didn’t come to America until the late 1800s. A German emigrant is believed to have sold the first hot dogs, called “dachshund sausages,” out of a food cart in New York. By 1893, they were a favorite at baseball games.

Hamburgers are also said to hail from Germany. However, a Danish restaurant owner claims to have cooked the first hamburger patty in 1900. Read the May 14th Heroes, Heroines, and History Blog for the whole story.

Another German dish to grace our tables is potato salad. It spread throughout Europe and came to the United States in the 1800s.

Dutch and German emigrants introduced apple pie. Which begs the question, why do we say, “As American as apple pie”? As the colonists distanced themselves from England, they left behind traditional English foods like scones and bread pudding and adopted new desserts. So, apple pie is considered American because it represents the break from the old kingdom.

Ice cream actually appeared in ancient Persia and made its way to ancient Greece and Rome. Later, it showed up in Europe and America. However, it wasn’t a treat for the masses until the invention of electric freezers.

Native Americans served baked beans before settlers arrived in the new land. The colonists adopted the dish—probably because it reminded them of pease porridge, a common English dish made from legumes.

We can also thank Native Americans for corn on the cob. They ate it before European settlers arrived. First cultivated by native people in Mexico, corn spread northward from there.

Ancient Egyptians harvested watermelon and selectively bred the unappetizing fruit until it tasted good. Over the years, it made its way around the world as a cherished treat in the dry seasons.

Americans came from many countries to create a unique culture. So, it is only fitting that we celebrate our heritage with a feast that blends many traditions. This melting-pot menu should be celebrated nearly as enthusiastically as our American heritage. Something to remember as you chow down and watch fireworks this year.



”Mending Sarah’s Heart” in the Thimbles and Threads Collection

Four historical romances celebrating the arts of sewing and quilting.

Mending Sarah’s Heart by Suzanne Norquist

Rockledge, Colorado, 1884

Sarah seeks a quiet life as a seamstress. She doesn’t need anyone, especially her dead husband’s partner. If only the Emporium of Fashion would stop stealing her customers, and the local hoodlums would leave her sons alone. When she rejects her husband’s share of the mine, his partner Jack seeks to serve her through other means. But will his efforts only push her further away?


Suzanne Norquist is the author of two novellas, “A Song for Rose” in A Bouquet of Brides Collection and “Mending Sarah’s Heart” in the Thimbles and Threads Collection. Everything fascinates her. She has worked as a chemist, professor, financial analyst, and even earned a doctorate in economics. Research feeds her curiosity, and she shares the adventure with her readers. She lives in New Mexico with her mining engineer husband and has two grown children. When not writing, she explores the mountains, hikes, and attends kickboxing class.

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