Note: This edition of The New England Cookbook has been updated to include Metric equivalents.
New England cookery! What glamor can there be in those matter-of-fact words to make magic in the hearts of most Americans wherever they may live? It is as though to all of us, whether our grandparents came from Cape Cod indeed, or from Naples, Oslo, Berlin or Omsk instead, New England is, spiritually speaking, our ancestral home. This filial feeling, sentimental and vaguely nostalgic, has very little to do with history, very much with food.
The dishes that we identify with New England are hearty, homely, satisfying foods. They are dishes created by thrifty homemakers to utilize the foods their hard-working menfolks wrested from the none-too-friendly soil and sea, acquiring prodigious appetites in the process. “Receipts” or “rules” for these dishes were handed down from generation to generation. There was little carry-over from old English tradition, because the English ingredients were simply not available in the early years. The foods which were most plentiful were foods which might well have baffled the early New Englanders’ English mothers—Indian corn and beans, squash, the small wild berries and grapes, maple sugar, the magnificent wild turkey, and cod, and clams, and lobster.
From such native American foods the New England homemakers made the first American culinary tradition. With these foods they celebrated the first American holiday—Thanksgiving. Americans throughout the country and indeed wherever they may be over the whole world celebrate the same holiday today, and as dear to their hearts as the holiday are the foods that go with it—which may account for the magic in those simple words: “New England cookery!”