Period Corn And Eel Succotash!


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diane

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#2
Nice video! I really like how they opened with the comments about the weirs. We have those up and down the river and they are in different styles depending on what you are catching and the type of area in the river. You were a rich Indian if you owned a weir or two! (I see they put in hominy - so few people use hominy properly.)
 
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#3
When I was growing up, my dad was a real meat and potatoes guy, who didn't seem to have a very adventurous palate. But the last decade or so he's told me a lot more about his life growing up on a northern Minnesota farm, and he has eaten all kinds of things! Mom always said he doesn't like fish, but actually he likes some kinds of fish he grew up with, dislikes others, and doesn't like any fish older than "I went fishing this afternoon and mom cooked it." I should ask if he ever had eels. They're not real clear on how long ago eels essentially disappeared from US fresh waters.

Had not realized before that Townsends was in Indiana! They're in Pierceton, SE of Warsaw. Pretty cool.
 
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#4
I've caught plenty of slimy eels fishing the rivers and creeks in my part of North Carolina
and I can't imagine eating them although the smaller ones make excellent Flathead catfish
bait. Overseas in the old country eels are a popular item on many seafood menus.
 
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#7
Overseas in the old country eels are a popular item on many seafood menus.
In the BBC "Italy Unpacked" series, Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli makes his traveling buddy British art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon some sort of eel dish -- my most vivid memory of the whole series is Locatelli tying the eel to a faucet to peel it. Not sure I would eat it, either, but in a culture where meat protein is rare I can see why people do.

Haven't seen eel in any of the American cookbooks I've poked around in from the 1830s or so to 1861, although I think they were still eating it in England then. Not sure it sounds any worse than turtle soup, and that was certainly a thing (although mock turtle soup was more common, I'm thinking -- turtles seemingly got hard to find a lot of places!).
 
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#8
In the BBC "Italy Unpacked" series, Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli makes his traveling buddy British art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon some sort of eel dish -- my most vivid memory of the whole series is Locatelli tying the eel to a faucet to peel it. Not sure I would eat it, either, but in a culture where meat protein is rare I can see why people do.

Haven't seen eel in any of the American cookbooks I've poked around in from the 1830s or so to 1861, although I think they were still eating it in England then. Not sure it sounds any worse than turtle soup, and that was certainly a thing (although mock turtle soup was more common, I'm thinking -- turtles seemingly got hard to find a lot of places!).
I've never tried Turtle Soup but my father has. He has told me stories about his grandmother making
it with what the main ingredient being what we call around here a Chicken Turtle. (it is a large black
shelled turtle with yellow markings and a yellow bottom on the shell) I guess the Chicken Turtle got
its name because it tastes like chicken. I've accidently caught Chicken Turtles when I was fishing
before but I set them free. (Chicken Soup doesn't sound too appealing to me)
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#9
In the BBC "Italy Unpacked" series, Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli makes his traveling buddy British art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon some sort of eel dish -- my most vivid memory of the whole series is Locatelli tying the eel to a faucet to peel it. Not sure I would eat it, either, but in a culture where meat protein is rare I can see why people do.

Haven't seen eel in any of the American cookbooks I've poked around in from the 1830s or so to 1861, although I think they were still eating it in England then. Not sure it sounds any worse than turtle soup, and that was certainly a thing (although mock turtle soup was more common, I'm thinking -- turtles seemingly got hard to find a lot of places!).
Indeed it was very popular in the mid 19th century in England still. Mrs. Beeton (one of my favorite Victorian cooks) has loads of eel recipes in her compendium on household management.

Here's one for eel pie :O o: -

Eel Pie


253. INGREDIENTS.—1 lb. of eels, a little chopped parsley, 1 shalot; grated nutmeg; pepper and salt to taste; the juice of 1/2 a lemon, small quantity of forcemeat, 1/4 pint of béchamel (see Sauces); puff paste.

Mode.—Skin and wash the eels, cut them into pieces 2 inches long, and line the bottom of the pie-dish with forcemeat. Put in the eels, and sprinkle them with the parsley, shalots, nutmeg, seasoning, and lemon-juice, and cover with puff-paste. Bake for 1 hour, or rather more; make the béchamel hot, and pour it into the pie.

Time.—Rather more than 1 hour.

Seasonable from August to March.

She also has recipes for fried, stewed, and boiled eels if one is so inclined.
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#10
I've never tried Turtle Soup but my father has. He has told me stories about his grandmother making
it with what the main ingredient being what we call around here a Chicken Turtle. (it is a large black
shelled turtle with yellow markings and a yellow bottom on the shell) I guess the Chicken Turtle got
its name because it tastes like chicken. I've accidently caught Chicken Turtles when I was fishing
before but I set them free. (Chicken Soup doesn't sound too appealing to me)
I couldn't picture having turtle soup myself. Traditionally in the 19th century it was quite the luxury soup (something for Queen Victoria to enjoy). I imagine your grandmother made it because it was readily available and caught for free by family members.

Below from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management is her elaborate recipe for turtle. Preparing the turtle sounds utterly disgusting :sick: There's also a little history/story about turtle soup at the end of the recipe.

TURTLE SOUP
189. INGREDIENTS.—A turtle, 6 slices of ham, 2 knuckles of veal, 1 large bunch of sweet herbs, 3 bay-leaves, parsley, green onions, 1 onion, 6 cloves, 4 blades of mace, 1/4 lb. of fresh butter, 1 bottle of Madeira, 1 lump of sugar. For the Quenelles ŕ Tortue, 1 lb. of veal, 1 lb. of bread crumbs, milk, 7 eggs, cayenne, salt, spices, chopped parsley, the juice of 2 lemons.​
Mode.—To make this soup with less difficulty, cut off the head of the turtle the preceding day. In the morning open the turtle by leaning heavily with a knife on the shell of the animal's back, whilst you cut this off all round. Turn it upright on its end, that all the water, &c. may run out, when the flesh should be cut off along the spine, with the knife sloping towards the bones, for fear of touching the gall, which sometimes might escape the eye. When all the flesh about the members is obtained, wash these clean, and let them drain. Have ready, on the fire, a large vessel full of boiling water, into which put the shells; and when you perceive that they come easily off, take them out of the water, and prick them all, with those of the back, belly, fins, head, &c. Boil the back and belly till the bones can be taken off, without, however, allowing the softer parts to be sufficiently done, as they will be boiled again in the soup. When these latter come off easily, lay them on earthen dishes singly, for fear they should stick together, and put them to cool. Keep the liquor in which you have blanched the softer parts, and let the bones stew thoroughly in it, as this liquor must be used to moisten all the sauces.​
All the flesh of the interior parts, the four legs and head, must be drawn down in the following manner:—Lay the slices of ham on the bottom of a very large stew pan, over them the knuckles of veal, according to the size of the turtle; then the inside flesh of the turtle, and over the whole the members. Now moisten with the water in which you are boiling the shell, and draw it down thoroughly. It may now be ascertained if it be thoroughly done by thrusting a knife into the fleshy part of the meat. If no blood appears, it is time to moisten it again with the liquor in which the bones, &c. have been boiling. Put in a large bunch of all such sweet herbs as are used in the cooking of a turtle,—sweet basil, sweet marjoram, lemon thyme, winter savory, 2 or 3 bay-leaves, common thyme, a handful of parsley and green onions, and a large onion stuck with 6 cloves. Let the whole be thoroughly done. With respect to the members, probe them, to see whether they are done, and if so, drain and send them to the larder, as they are to make their appearance only when the soup is absolutely completed. When the flesh is also completely done, strain it through a silk sieve, and make a very thin white roux; for turtle soup must not be much thickened. When the flour is sufficiently done on a slow fire, and has a good colour, moisten it with the liquor, keeping it over the fire till it boils. Ascertain that the sauce is neither too thick nor too thin; then draw the stew pan on the side of the stove, to skim off the white scum, and all the fat and oil that rise to the surface of the sauce. By this time all the softer parts will be sufficiently cold; when they must be cut to about the size of one or two inches square, and thrown into the soup, which must now be left to simmer gently. When done, skim off all the fat and froth. Take all the leaves of the herbs from the stock,—sweet basil, sweet marjoram, lemon thyme, winter savory, 2 or 3 bay-leaves, common thyme, a handful of parsley and green onions, and a large onion cut in four pieces, with a few blades of mace. Put these in a stewpan, with about 1/4 lb. of fresh butter, and let it simmer on a slow fire till quite melted, when pour in 1 bottle of good Madeira, adding a small bit of sugar, and let it boil gently for 1 hour. When done, rub it through a tammy, and add it to the soup. Let this boil, till no white scum rises; then take with a skimmer all the bits of turtle out of the sauce, and put them in a clean stewpan: when you have all out, pour the soup over the bits of turtle, through a tammy, and proceed as follows:—​
QUENELLES Ŕ TORTUE.—Make some quenelles ŕ tortue, which being substitutes for eggs, do not require to be very delicate. Take out the fleshy part of a leg of veal, about 1 lb., scrape off all the meat, without leaving any sinews or fat, and soak in milk about the same quantity of crumbs of bread. When the bread is well soaked, squeeze it, and put it into a mortar, with the veal, a small quantity of calf's udder, a little butter, the yolks of 4 eggs, boiled hard, a little cayenne pepper, salt, and spices, and pound the whole very fine; then thicken the mixture with 2 whole eggs, and the yolk of another. Next try this farce or stuffing in boiling-hot water, to ascertain its consistency: if it is too thin, add the yolk of an egg. When the farce is perfected, take half of it, and put into it some chopped parsley. Let the whole cool, in order to roll it of the size of the yolk of an egg; poach it in salt and boiling water, and when very hard, drain on a sieve, and put it into the turtle. Before you send up, squeeze the juice of 2 or 3 lemons, with a little cayenne pepper, and pour that into the soup. THE FINS may be served as a plat d'entrée with a little turtle sauce; if not, on the following day you may warm the turtle au bain marie, and serve the members entire, with a matelote sauce, garnished with mushrooms, cocks' combs, quenelles, &c. When either lemon-juice or cayenne pepper has been introduced, no boiling must take place.​
Note.—It is necessary to observe, that the turtle prepared a day before it is used, is generally preferable, the flavour being more uniform. Be particular, when you dress a very large turtle, to preserve the green fat (be cautious not to study a very brown colour,—the natural green of the fish is preferred by every epicure and true connoisseur) in a separate stewpan, and likewise when the turtle is entirely done, to have as many tureens as you mean to serve each time. You cannot put the whole in a large vessel, for many reasons: first, it will be long in cooling; secondly, when you take some out, it will break all the rest into rags. If you warm in a bain marie, the turtle will always retain the same taste; but if you boil it often, it becomes strong, and loses the delicacy of its flavour.​
THE COST OF TURTLE SOUP.—This is the most expensive soup brought to table. It is sold by the quart,—one guinea being the standard price for that quantity. The price of live turtle ranges from 8d. to 2s. per lb., according to supply and demand. When live turtle is dear, many cooks use the tinned turtle, which is killed when caught, and preserved by being put in hermetically-sealed canisters, and so sent over to England. The cost of a tin, containing 2 quarts, or 4 lbs., is about Ł2, and for a small one, containing the green fat, 7s. 6d. From these about 6 quarts of good soup may be made.​
THE GREEN TURTLE.—This reptile is found in large numbers on the coasts of all the islands and continents within the tropics, in both the old and new worlds. Their length is often five feet and upwards, and they range in weight from 50 to 500 or 600 lbs. As turtles find a constant supply of food on the coasts which they frequent, they are not of a quarrelsome disposition, as the submarine meadows in which they pasture, yield plenty for them all. Like other species of amphibia, too, they have the power of living many months without food; so that they live harmlessly and peaceably together, notwithstanding that they seem to have no common bond of association, but merely assemble in the same places as if entirely by accident. England is mostly supplied with them from the West Indies, whence they are brought alive and in tolerable health. The green turtle is highly prized on account of the delicious quality of its flesh, the fat of the upper and lower shields of the animal being esteemed the richest and most delicate parts. The soup, however, is apt to disagree with weak stomachs. As an article of luxury, the turtle has only come into fashion within the last 100 years, and some hundreds of tureens of turtle soup are served annually at the lord mayor's dinner in Guildhall.​
 
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#11
I imagine your grandmother made it because it was readily available and caught for free by family members.
Talked to a guy gigging for turtle in downtown South Bend a few years back, and, yep. Grew up eating it and they could catch it for free (actually you need a license, but it's pretty cheap). Not sure I'd eat anything out of the St. Joseph River, although it probably isn't any worse than the waters most fresh-caught fish come from.

Still, I have no doubt whatsoever that Mrs. Beeton is right when she says;

The soup, however, is apt to disagree with weak stomachs.​
:sick:
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#12
Talked to a guy gigging for turtle in downtown South Bend a few years back, and, yep. Grew up eating it and they could catch it for free (actually you need a license, but it's pretty cheap). Not sure I'd eat anything out of the St. Joseph River, although it probably isn't any worse than the waters most fresh-caught fish come from.
Can't say I'm surprised you'd need a license as you often even need one to fish in certain localities as well. Though I'm sure the license pays for itself after a couple of catches.

Still, I have no doubt whatsoever that Mrs. Beeton is right when she says;

:sick:
I wholeheartedly agree on that one! I think the wealthy who enjoyed it in the era were no doubt downing expensive wine with every course so had no clue what they were eating when the soup course rolled around!
 

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