The Dutch Larder,
page 4 of 13
Two centuries and a half of appreciation pay equally warm tribute to the terrapin’s reputation.
Patriarchal lobsters five and six feet long were in the bay. Van der Donck says “those a foot long are better for serving at table.” Truly a lobster six feet long would seem a little awkward to serve. W. Eddis, in his “Letters from America” written in 1792, says these vast lobsters were caught in New York waters until Revolutionary days when “since the late incessant cannonading, they have entirely forsaken the coast; not one having been taken or seen since the commencement of hostilities.” Crabs, too, were large, and some were “altogether soft.” Van der Donck corroborates the foot-long oysters seen by the Labadists. He says the “large oysters roasted or stewed make a good bite,” —a very good bite, it would seem.
Salted fish was as carefully prepared and amiably regarded in New York as in England and Holland at the same date. The ling and herring of the old country gave place in New York to shad. The greatest pains was taken in preparing, drying, and salting the plentiful shad. It is said that in towns, as in New York and Brooklyn, great heaps of shad were left when purchased at each door, and that the necessary cleaning and preparation was done on the street. As all housewives purchased shad and salted and packed at about the same time, those public scavengers, the domestic hogs, who roamed the town-streets unchecked (and ever welcomed), must have been specially useful at shad-time.
At a very early date apple-trees were set out and cultivated with much care and much success. Nowhere else, says Dankers, had he seen such fine apples. He notes the Double Paradise. The Newtown pippin, the Kingston spitzenburgh, the Poughkeepsie swaar-apple, the red-streak, guelderleng, and others of well-known name, show New York’s attention to apple-raising. Kalm, the Swedish naturalist, spoke of the splendid apple-orchards throughout New York in 1749, and told of the horse-press for making cider. Cider soon rivalled in domestic use the beer of the Fatherland. It was constantly used during the winter season, and, diluted with water, sweetened, and flavored with nutmeg, made a grateful summer drink.