Mayland, History, Food. | Writing | Food Newsie

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Mayland, History, Food.

Mayland, History, Food.

I have appointed myself, quietly, Mr. Maryland – granting myself powers to look at local history through the filter of food. I also, you see, have a Food Blogger Badge that I infrequently flip out on anyone especially bringing to conclusive ends disputes over food among friends. The title’s duration for Mr. Maryland is to last as long as I like because I think it’s available; and food curiosity is for life. Maryland is a great place for history and food is great place to start. There are colonial farms and numerous parks with structures from early colonial times but I have to confess, a second brain is needed when it comes to researching old texts.

Mayland, History, Food.

The acid test: If you can decipher this small paragraph at the start of the book, you're in for a treat. If not, skip it - it'll feel like school all over again.

Available online are virtual stacks of historic publications scanned to PDF format. The, “Then and Now” differences in what people expected and planned for are entertaining. I find it all fascinating but have decided to put here some of the food-related portions I’ve read. The grammar is a challenge, the alphabets include letters that no longer exist and the spelling is a complete wonder sometimes with the same word spelled three ways on the same page. With a new tablet in my hands, and motivation to learn more about Maryland and some time up my sleeve, I was up to it – the challenge. Link: Relation of Maryland and other related scans from Google Books

A Relation of Maryland

After following the travel route upriver and illustrating for the reader what they may see and encounter and, presumably, whetting the palette of a possible traveler to Maryland (there were cash and land incentives), the Relation includes detailed lists of what to pack. These lists have price columns labeled: L, S and D.

Pound, Shilling and Pence. In Pre-decimal Sterling there were 12 Pence to a Shilling and 20 Shillings to a Pound. The Pence initial, “D” is homage to Dinar and Dinar came from the Romans. So, 1:20:12 if you’re curious. Very pre-decimal.

The lists begin with Victuals (food or provisions as prepared for consumption) and are measured for one man, for a year. They continue for Apparel, Bedding, Arms, Tools, Household Implements (incl. Iron Pot and Iron Kettle – since both were Iron, both were black. Hence, it made no sense for the pot to call the kettle black. That’s the root of the misunderstood expression today) and suggest monetary amounts that one would have to keep in mind for servants once one settled.

A Good Mastiff Hound

When envisioning early Maryland, it’s hard to imagine what every home might have had in common; like silver SUV’s or particular snow shovel or patio set or 18-inch Weber kettle Grill that’s similar today from one house to the next. But this list provides information in the form of, “Provision for his House” which help us to imagine what every neighbor would have had readily on hand and considered to be too crucial to be without.

Just this paragraph alone illustrates the lengths to which we no longer need to go when thinking about providing some basics for our houses. Because of the characters no longer in use, I’ll present it as an image from the PDF version – then spell out the modern meanings as I’ve interpreted them.

Mayland, History, Food.

Including letters we no longer use, this document is exciting for historical reasons and, as I see it, food reasons. It includes lists the adventurer would need to begin trading and farming his new plot in Maryland my Maryland.

Iron, locks, hinges and bolts, for doors, gates, entryways, etc. Mustard seed, glass and lead for his windows. Malt for beer, a 50 gallons of beef or pork stock; 22 to 33 gallons of butter, a hundred or two of old cheeses; a gallon of honey, soap and candles, iron wedges, abomasum for animal rennet to make cheese, and finally, a good mastiff.

Glass and Lead for his windows (stained glass window pieces are connected with “lead came”)
Malt for Beer (every man having his own recipe I suppose)
Hogshead as a measure is for liquids hovering around 50 gallons, so, that’s gross. But realistically, it could mean stock or broth.

Like English? Firkin is from the Middle Dutch vierdekijn meaning “fourth.” A fourth, because its measure is a quarter of an ale or beer barrel. In measurements, it’s also half of something called a kilderkin. Firkin, Kilderkin and Hogshead still show up as terms in pub and brewery chats and sites. They’re not being stylish, they’re being traditional for the craft. This list relates those terms for liquid measure to Gallons and includes years when the measurements were made “official” in the UK.

Two or three Firkins of Butter (see above)
Soap was made by dripping water through wood ash producing lye and adding that to animal fat; it’s interesting that soap is mentioned as ready-made.
Iron Wedges are still used today as log splitters. Hit them with the back of the axe to hammer through tough wood.

“Pookes for Rennet to make cheese,” was tough to find the modern meaning, but “pookes” as it is here is later spelled “pokes” here in a letter from 1787 which describes the true word as abomaja. Cheese in 1635 was made from animal rennet. Animal rennet is made from the stomach of some young animals with young calves being the animal referred to in the 1787 letter. Today, that portion of calf stomach is called the abomasum and only exists briefly since it’s phased out as cow’s mature.

Finally, a good Mastiff. The Mastiff Hound – a large molosser dog known for size and strength who are both loyal and quite able to defend a territory appeared as regularly then as “ADT” security yard signs today. That’s a pretty interesting picture of what early Maryland adventurers had on hand. There’s more history out there for food including some no-frills recipes and techniques that I’ll cover later, but I wanted that to be the brief introduction of concerns people used to have for survival food.

Mayland, History, Food.

From WIKI: The Founding of Maryland, 1634. Colonists depicted meeting Native Americans in St. Mary's City, Maryland, the site of Maryland's first colonial settlement. The painting represents the main traditionally held elements of Maryland's centuries old founding narrative. The presentation is a mythic depiction and is an assembly of traditional tales about Maryland's founding. ... Gifts of FOOD are in the right foreground.

Mr. Maryland

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