SAUERKRAUT YANKEES: Pennsylvania-German Foods and Foodways by William Woys Weaver

SAUERKRAUT YANKEES: Pennsylvania-German Foods and Foodways

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A new book written around an old one,"" this is partly a translation, from a hybrid language called Pennsylvania High German, of a mid-19th-century regional best selling cookbook, Die geschickte Hausfrau (The Handy Housewife), compiled by a Harrisburg printer, Gustav Sigismund Peters, and first published in 1848. Peters, Weaver tells us, was a resolute recipe pirate, who borrowed from Mary Randolph's Virginia House-wife (1824) and from Pennsylvania English cookbooks, which in turn drew on English and French sources. Besides re-ordering the recipes and providing them with 19th-century illustrations, Weaver comments on all of them, tracing origins, providing context, and explaining ingredients. He also adds, from other sources of the time, recipes for typical dishes such as scrapple and sauerkraut, which Peters did not bother to include because his readers were already well acquainted with the procedures. What we have here, then, is no pure cuisine but an authentic representation of what mid-19th-century Pennsylvania Germans ate. Mostly, that was lots of meat, especially pork--not only at all three meals but in several forms at the main meal, which also included soup, dried or pickled fruit, and pickled vegetables. The sweets among the famous ""seven sweets and seven sours"" came later, and the array did not originate among the Pennsylvania Germans. Among Weaver's bonuses is an interesting discourse on ""mangoes,"" which became in America (via Britain) any fruit prepared like the Indian mango chutney; the Pennsylvania Dutch used muskmelon (more like today's Hoagen cantaloupe) and, later, bell peppers, which became so popular that ""mango"" became a dialect term for peppers. As all Peters' recipes were based on open-hearth cooking, and baking was clone in outdoor ovens, Weaver warns that readers wishing to duplicate the dishes might have to make some adjustments. Considering today's styles and sedentary habits, such use will not be extensive. As an ethnic heritage resource, both the old kitchen standby and the new elucidation are welcome--especially in the year of the German-American Tricentennial Celebration.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1983
Publisher: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press