The Island at the Center of the World

The Dutch Larder,
page 5 of 13

Peaches were in such lavish abundance as to become uncared for. The roads were covered with fallen peaches which even the ever-filled hogs would not eat. Plums were equally plentiful. Cherry-trees were planted in good numbers and produced in great quantities. “All travellers and passers-by could pick and eat at will,” says Kalm. Comparatively scanty and poor are peaches, plums, and cherries in New York State to-day.

There were also plenty of vegetables: cibollen (chibbals), peasen (pease), chicoreye (chiccory), karoten (carrots), artichock (artichoke), lattouwe (lettuce), beeten (beets), pastinaken (parsnips), radys (radish), and many others. Pumpkins and squashes abounded, but do not appear to have been in as universal use as in New England. Quaasiens were so easily cooked “they were a favorite with the young women,’ says one authority; they “grew rapidly and digested well,” also were qualities accorded in their favor. Under the name of askutasquash, or vine-apples, Roger Williams sung their praises. Musk-melons, water-melons, and cucumbers were grown in large number and excellent quality. Whether they cooked the DuyveL's broodt, the picturesque Dutch name for mushrooms, I know not, but the teeming woods of the Hudson valley offered them rich and abundant store of this dainty food.

The Swedish naturalist, Kalm, visited Albany in 1749. He has left to us a very full account of Albany food and fashions of serving at that time. He found the Albanians faring as did their great grandfathers in the Netherlands, who were sneeringly called “milk and cheese men,” and he found them rasping their cheese as had their far-away forbears in Holland, and as do their descendants in Holland to this day. He writes thus:—

“The inhabitants of Albany are much more sparing than the English. The meat which is served up is often insufficient to satisfy the stomach, and the bowl does not circulate so freely as among the English. . . . Their meat and manner of dressing it is very different from that of the English. Their Breakfast is tea, commonly without milk. About thirty or forty years ago, tea was unknown to them, and they breakfasted either upon bread and butter or bread and milk. They never put sugar into the cup but put a small bit of it into their mouths while they drink. Along with the tea they eat bread and butter with slices of hung beef. Coffee is not usual here: they breakfast generally about seven.


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