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Home / Business / Colonial Williamsburg serves traditional recipes for modern pallets: Salted: NPR

Colonial Williamsburg serves traditional recipes for modern pallets: Salted: NPR



At Colonial Williamsburg's Garden and Kindergarten, which is open to guests, staff grows things that would have been found in gentry gardens: herbs, flowers and seasonal vegetables.

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At Colonial Williamsburg's Garden and Kindergarten, which is open to guests, staff items that would have been found in gentry pleasure gardens are growing: herbs, flowers and seasonal greens.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Just a few blocks past a college bookstore, modern beer-glass restaurants and big-screen TVs, and gift shops selling the same ornaments you find in any tourist town in America, you can walk on a cobbled street. [19659008] A cock collar. The smell and sound of horses go into the breeze. Women go about their business dressed in caps and petticoats; Men wear pants, maybe a cravat.

Colonial Williamsburg, Va., The 300-hectare live history museum, is a place where people stumble into the past, whether they are talking to book-binding masks or the people who grow long-forgotten fruits and vegetables.

Since the restoration began in 1926, the dream of preserving this part of Williamsburg has come to include the chance to taste the story.

There is a foodways program where people in colonial garbage cooks all year round an open fire using culinary technology only available in the 18th th century.

And then there are farmers like Ed Schultz who wound fields with cries, tobacco, corn and cotton using literal horsepower; or Eve Otmar, a gardener who tends to "gentleman's garden", which includes summer flowers and expensive glass frames that allow salads to grow. All year round.

"We have a bulb in our garden," says Otmar. "People are horrified, surprised and stunned." She tells the story of how a woman who had lived in Virginia for 52 years once told her she had never seen a bulb. "They are natives here," says Otmar.

While guests can often buy seeds to take home or try some of the edible ingredients if they are lucky, the relationship between food from the past and present a bit milder in Colonial Williamsburg's many restaurants

Guests may think that they want a taste of the past, but their thoroughly modern palates often disagree.

"When you look at creating historical recipes, sometimes it doesn't taste that good," says Travis Brust, head of the Colonial Williamsburg Inn. seems to be overcooked. It doesn't have the spice profile you expect. "Living the past – foodwise – is often a matter of trial and error. A gingerbread colonial restaurant serving around holidays took at least 10 attempts before getting sugar and spices to a level that seemed tasteful. [19659019] Cushaw squash was common in the 18th century Virginia, but sold as an heirloom green today. "We get it all at once," Brust says. "We accept it, dehydrate it, make it ice cream, put it in sous video bags and make raviolis out of it. "

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Cushaw squash was common in 18th century Virginia, but sold as an heirloom green today. "We get everything at once," says Brust. "We accept it, dehydrate it, make it ice, put it in sous video bags and make raviolis out of it."

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Brust explains that spices were expensive in colonial America. "You could have paid your rent in cardamom and now you can get a bottle for $ 4." If an American American ate out at one of our restaurants, he says, "they would think the food was overly salty and crossed and had a ridiculous amount of herbs in it."

The second challenge is about aesthetics, says Brust. Chicken stew is a tough sale that is in the restaurant. "It has been prepared for hours and hours, and it's very tender and tasty, but all the green has left – it's brown," he explains. "When you look at creating it, maybe you leave the greens and do a quick sauté, then fold them in at the end." That's what George Washington would have eaten if he had Instagram.

Brust bases its menus partly on what Williamsburg gardens and farms should harvest. "They know when to smoke, and they will tell us the different stages of carrots." He uses carrot rats, baby, adolescents and full-grown carrots in slightly different ways.

Schultz grows many wine plants, ranging from pumpkin to cushaw squash, a common assortment in 18 th Virginia sold as an heirloom green today. It is not a seasonal kitchen utensil, but instead comes with the cargo load. "We get everything at once," says Brust. "We accept it, dehydrate it, make it ice, put it in sous video bags and make raviolis out of it. It's almost to the point we can't use it all because there's so much of it." [19659008] Some 18 th -century plants have been easier to rediscover than others. Schultz is still trying to find a plant known as the "Hanover Ripet", mentioned in the sales record of the store of a local trader, John Carter, with limited success. Carter's shop sold everything from swans, chickens and hedgehogs to imported garden varieties and molasses.

Despite cultivation in Virginia in the 18th century, the Cypriot melon did not return to Colonial Williamsburg before a seed company traveled to Cyprus and found a fruit that matched a description from the 18th century.

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Despite growing in Virginia in the 1700s, the Cypriot melon did not return to Colonial Williamsburg before a seed company traveled to Cyprus and found a fruit that fit a description from the 18th century.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Despite growing in Virginia in the 18th century, the Cypriot melon did not return to Colonial Williamsburg before a seed company traveled to Cyprus and discovered an interesting looking fruit for sale on a local food market, Otmar said. "The black description we had from the 18th th century," she says. The staff rely on everything from written tastes and smells to old drawings and paintings to help rediscover or recreate crops through gentle farming – with less intimidating results than Jurassic Park.

The various culinary industries in Colonial Williamsburg did not always work as smoothly as they do today, Schultz says. People are constantly asking him what he does with the grain he grows. "They want to know it's a full circle that this really goes to domestic animals or really goes to the stomach's stomach."

Today, the food that is grown on the spot rarely goes to waste. When the kohlrabi began to swell from the heavy rains that Virginia experienced last summer, the culinary staff had an emergency harvest of baby kohlrabi. "We ended up confining them, peeling, slicing and [cooking them] in a scented olive oil to be used as a night special," Brust said. "We saved the crop."

Danovich is a journalist based in Portland, Ore .


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