In addition to missing friends and family – during this time of year, I miss Maine’s foods – and not just the real “lobstah” with claws.
Photo used with the permission of the photographer, Catherine Frost, an outstanding marketing professional. Check out her business, Folio Marketing & Creative on Facebook.
Facebook has allowed me to stay in touch with friends and family back home and at sea. On one recent day, my Maine Facebook friends had my mouth watering with posts about Macoun apples, Bean Suppahs, and Maine Lobstah. In late August I craved fresh Maine corn on the cob, caved, and bought days old corn from Florida. That’s just wrong.
My food cravings “at sea” begin in the spring and continue through the autumn:
Early Spring. Brook trout and fiddleheads. When I was four or five, I remember going “fishing” with my mom and dad. One of them would fish for brook trout, and the other would let me “help” pick fiddleheads. Back home, we feasted on pan-fried brook trout and steamed fiddleheads.
May and June. Rhubarb. Just like every home I grew up in, the one EW I bought had a rhubarb plant: rhubarb raw with lots of sugar, rhubarb sauce on ice cream and strawberry/rhubarb pie. I miss rhubarb.
June into July. Strawberries. Favorite’s birthday is in late June, and as he got older, I served strawberry shortcake as a treat. While one can use sponge cake or pound cake for this dessert, the real Maine way is to make sweet biscuits and real whipped cream. Oh, my.
When I was a kid, we’d also start to pick green onions and lettuce in June and keep on enjoying them through the summer. Real baby carrots – not those fake, uniform nubs offered in the stores – were pulled from the ground, rinsed under the outdoor spigot, and eaten as a back-yard snack. At left: My dad and our young neighbor Brendan F., checking the garden in 74 or 75. Look at that lettuce!
July If things were going well in the garden, the corn would be knee high and the first peas would be ready to pick. The first raspberries would ripen in mid-July. My Grampa Robbins had a raspberry bush – well more of a wild thicket, actually – right outside his one-room cottage. I loved going out in my PJs in the morning to pick raspberries for my cereal. Later, my dad planted and tended raspberry bushes at the far end of his garden, lovingly covering them with netting to discourage the birds. Mom’s favorite pie was raspberry and each Thanksgiving I’d make it from raspberries I’d frozen in the summer. And as for those peas? A traditional Fourth of July meal included peas and salmon. The best Fourth of July meal had fresh-water salmon.
At right: This photo was captioned: “My first fish.” It is my only fish. I was 10. It was a salmon caught in Sebec Lake – in Maine, of course.
August. Green Beans, cucumbers, blueberries and – finally – corn on the cob. In Maine, it must be fresh picked that day. Here’s the old Maine recipe for corn:
Fill a pot half way with water and bring it to a boil. Go out in the garden, pick and husk the corn and run like hell to the house. If you trip and fall, toss that corn to the pigs and start again.
This is not much of an exaggeration. I don’t turn down a lobstah feed at any time of the year, but the best shore dinners are served with fresh corn on the cob and are therefore best enjoyed in August and September.
September – October All of the fall vegetables, are delicious in Maine, but my favorite Maine treat is a crisp, tart, fresh apple. Cortlands and Macouns were our family’s favorites. My mouth is watering.
Fall – Winter The Maine Bean Suppah. First, “supper”, pronounced suppah is the normal evening meal in Maine; “dinner” was served at noon on Sunday, after church. Suppah was served at 5 and if you were attending a bean “suppah” at the local church or grange hall, you’d best show up early. As this excellent post from Maine says, first you pick your piece of pie, and set it at your place on the table; and then you enjoy an all you can eat feast of Maine Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, various side dishes, brown bread or biscuits, and – in later years – hot dogs. Usually, all of the food is home-made and delivered to the venue in the afternoon. A group of volunteers arrives at the sight early in the morning to cook massive of yellow-eye and pea beans in vast pots or casserole dishes. Daddy made the beans at home, and most Saturday night suppahs in the Huff house were bean suppahs with home-made biscuits.
We enjoy eating local foods, especially in Trinidad and Grenada, but, on some days I may see something on Facebook, or simply be reminded of the season, my mouth waters, and I begin to crave a food from home.
To all of you back in the Northeast – please enjoy some of those treats for me. To all of you who cruise – what foods do you miss? It’s all part of our adventure.