My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 1 second. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Remember: Chow Chow

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chow Chow

There isn’t much left of the PA Dutch tradition that was once a major defining characteristic of the Lehigh Valley. Sure, there are a few hex signs hanging around here and there and Martin’s potato rolls are still in supermarkets; but the restaurants are gone and the Dutchies themselves are almost gone too.

There is a lesson to be learned from them and it is one we should take very seriously. The old PA Dutch society here was “green” before “green” was the hip way to be. They grew their own food, ate in season, and preserved what could not be immediately consumed or what they needed to save to survive the winter. You see, the real lesson here is in a bottle of chow-chow.

I am going to assume that the majority of you have at least encountered chow-chow at some point living here in the Valley. Just in case though, chow-chow is a mix of vegetables (normally “end of the season”) covered in a sweet and sour brine and sealed in a jar. It isn’t pickles folks, but it is preserved in the pickling tradition.

Chow-chow is perfect fodder for vegans and vegetarians and with a little willpower, very easy to make yourself. The reason it is an example of old school “greenery” is because the farmers and farmer’s wives that made this product did so to preserve whatever they could from the end of the harvest. They weren’t going to have fresh green beans or wax beans so they needed to save what they already had.

My grandmother used to buy chow-chow all the time when I was a kid so I sort of grew up eating it as well as things like apple butter (which has nothing to do with butter but is a long slow cooked version of applesauce with cider to make it velvety and dark brown).

As the Lehigh Valley moves away from the Dutchie traditions for better and for worse; there are still lessons to be learned from them. A general awakening is occurring across America during this recession about the importance of local, sustainable food and if there is one positive we as a society take away from this firestorm of financial degradation; it is that beyond the walls of corporate food exists a country of farmers that is slowly fading away and it is that country of farmers that makes us who we are.

We are not separate from the food tradition that has defined generations before us. We do however separate ourselves increasingly from the tried and true process that respects the soil, preserves the eco-system and generally makes our bodies healthier.

I say today, remember. I titled this blog that when I first had the idea to write a blog back in January. Eating locally, and in season can help change you as a person. You will learn new and exciting ways to cook and hell if nothing else, you can begin to free yourself from the plastic food of the chain restaurants and find that local culture that is so quickly evaporating.

Related Posts:
Italian Salad
Ice Cream
Swine Flu Shenanigans

And, I will be announcing a meet-up for all those interested as soon as a theater announces a showing of Food Inc.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home