America’s eating habits have changed over the years. Oh, my Yes! The foods we eat and the way we eat, have certainly changed. Today’s diet and eating customs would be almost unrecognizable by our Grandparents and Great Grandparents.
Gone are the dinners of roast meat, mashed potatoes and gravy, with biscuits and milk or coffee. Today it’s tacos, wraps and colas. Today we may hear vegan, organically grown, gluten free, or global cuisine.
Grandma and Grandpa would have had a garden even if they lived in the city. So they enjoyed fresh fruits and vegetables during the summer and many would “home can” the foods for meals during the winter. Meats were either fresh or cured. Fishing was enjoyed by many and provided many a meal. Lard a saturated animal fat was used for cooking, baking and frying. Today one will use an unsaturated vegetable oil. Bread, biscuits or muffins and butter was ate at every meal. Milk was a favorite beverage and for the adults, coffee and tea could be purchased at the local grocery store.
Today, in our modern age, we like our foods with some “flavor”. We like spicy, smoky, tangy, sour or bitter, or hot and spicy with chili sauce, cayenne, Sriracha, habanero or ancho peppers. We like specialty cheeses like Gouda, Brie, bleu, goat cheese, Mediterranean and Hispanic cheeses. We think of Grandma’s foods as being more “plain”, – plain potatoes or fresh or cooked vegetables with butter and plain roasted meats. However Grandma would have made sauces, butters, gravies, salad dressings and mayonnaises to embellish her foods. She would have made jams and jellies from fresh fruits and made her own pickles. There must have been a zillion pickle recipes. She would have made her own chili sauce and her own catsup. And to add some zip, she would make her own horseradish. Horseradish sauce over roast beef is a fine dish, even today. And how about homemade mint sauce! She even made her own juices. Maybe not orange juice, if she lived in the East or Midwest, but apple juice, grape and tomato juice. Grandma would make her own applesauce. And the flavor would depend on if she used the Jonathans or the McIntosh. When you tried the jelly you would determine if she used the berries from her garden or the wild berries at the creek!
Milk, cream, butter and eggs were always available and Grandma would make home made chowders, puddings, ice creams and sherbets. (Before refrigeration there were ice houses where ice from the rivers was cut into blocks and stored and available for special needs, such as a grand dessert.) Maple syrup and honey were easily available and Nuts -walnuts, hickory nuts, etc., were used in candies and desserts. Popcorn and popcorn balls have been a treat for a long time.
Oh yes, food was plain and boring a hundred years ago! Umm, but it was also very good.
A lady was mentioning the other day that the doctor complained to her husband that he did not eat vegetables. I guess the doctor asked if he was eating broccoli (the wonder food) and he answered that he didn’t care for broccoli and Brussels sprouts. So the doctor said he had to eat vegetables even if he doesn’t like vegetables. Well the fellow is 80 years old and until the last ten or so years, he had not heard of broccoli and Brussels sprouts. However what the Doctor needs to learn is that there are other vegetables with lots of nutrition also, such as, tomatoes, green beans, Lima beans, carrots, squash, potatoes, corn, red beets, cabbage, turnips, onions, and on and on and on. The man has been eating these all his life and possibly the reason at 80 years old he is still quite healthy and can out-work (more physical work) than many 20-year old fellows.
So before we think that only today’s foods are delicious, with lots of flavor, spices, preservatives, etc., think back what Grandma used to make. May want to omit the lard and frying, and use vegetable oils and prepare in non-fat methods. But preparing some of our basic foods with basic ingredients may not be as “plain” and boring as you think.
And if you’re saying you don’t have time to cook – they tell me it takes longer to get off the roadway and drive to a deli or restaurant, go inside and wait for your order, get back into the car and back onto the road to go home than if one goes directly home and prepares one of Grandma’s recipes.