HUNTER'S STEW AND HANGTOWN FRY: What Pioneer America Ate and Why by Lila Perl

HUNTER'S STEW AND HANGTOWN FRY: What Pioneer America Ate and Why

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Continuing the survey begun in her Slumps, Grunts, and Snickerdoodles (1975) which covered the Colonial period, Peri ties the pioneers' eating habits in with the routes and patterns of 19th-century immigration and westward migration. For each region, ethnic origins of the settlers are noted, along with the prevailing variations on native American ""cuisine""; and Perl includes twenty characteristic recipes--among them shrimp gumbo from Creole Louisiana, Kartoffelpuffers from German Ohio, beef enchiladas and chuckwagon beans from the Southwest, a Chinese ginger chicken from San Francisco, and from the cities back East, both the Pots de Creme representing the ""French elegance of the Jefferson White House"" and the plain soda bread of the Boston Irish. As for ""why"" the pioneers ate as they did, it boils down, unsurprisingly, to the traditions they brought with them and the ingredients and conditions they found; Peri sheds a few sidelights (Missouri's early fame for the laboriously beaten angel food cake is attributed to its being a slave state) and tosses in an occasional interesting oddment (Lewis and Clark's party preferred both dog and horse flesh to the Indians' diet of salmon); otherwise she offers little in the way of ideas or observations. Like much pioneer cooking, workaday.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Seabury