Wednesday, October 3, 2012

300 years ahead of the curve . . .

Annie Roach (right)  and I working on a meal at Plimoth Plantation
a few decades ago
I have mentioned the many professional cooks in the Deetz family, they take all forms. Chefs, bakers, caterers, (bartender here)--maybe even doing demonstration cooking at historic sites counts.  My dad Jim Deetz was first making over things at Plimoth Plantation back in the mid 20th century. More research was done, less myth building. We built houses using 17th-century tools and cooked local, seasonal food, crafted in a way that today would be labeled artisnal. At a time when convenience foods, and packaged goods were at their peak in popularity, we were grinding our own grain, plucking our own chickens, catching and salting our own herring and picking whatever seasonal berries could be had back in the woods. We chopped the wood to build the fires which baked our breads. At the same time, the average American family was using readily available products like canned soups, and instant puddings and artifically colored and sweetened everything.

The Deetz household I grew up in had plenty of these same convenience products, but we also learned how to cook everything from scratch. This worked its way into our daily cooking methods, and with such a big family, I think it was easier to make things the way my mom had when she was younger and lived on a farm, and the way my father's family did one generation away from Italy. I believe in time we would still have embraced the same hand made, seasonal and local foods, but we certainly had an early exposure to a specialty now familiarly known as foodways.  As the Deetz family grew, and we all lived in places like New England and San Francisco/Berkeley area of California, Tucson, Tidewater, and Chicago, not to mention my brothers living in Italy and Viet Nam and Taiwan, we have all soaked up each region and embraced the local, unique foodways.

And for any of you who ever came into the Warren house at Plimoth Plantation where Annie and I were cooking, believe me, we had the best stuff tucked under a cloth at the back of the table :-)

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