I grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, near the Maryland line. I had two younger brothers. Mom and Dad, they always stayed together, although that was a challenge because my father was an alcoholic. That caused some food issues for us. Ironically, we always ate together, unless my father was drunk in some bar somewhere, which was frequent. And like a lot of families in the ‘50s and ‘60s, my mother did all the food preparation. Even if she was working, which she always was because she wasn’t the main breadwinner but she was the stable breadwinner. My dad would lose jobs frequently. Because it was the ‘50s and ‘60s, he could lose a job in the morning and get another one in the afternoon. But it was difficult.
I grew up with four food systems. One is the stuff from my biological family, which was tempered by the fact that my mother was a Pennsylvania native from near where I grew up. My father was actually from Worcester, Massachusetts, so he had some really strange food quirks. He thought that the greatest meal on earth was hot dogs and beans. And I had my grandparents’ food system, and I had the school food system, and then I had things I discovered when I was an adult and went to New England.
Our diet was what you would call working-class poor
My dad had a lot of quirks. Hot dogs and beef, chipped beef on toast he loved. He referred to by the Navy acronym which was shit on a shingle. Always. That was always what we were having that night. He loved liver and onions. I later figured out that maybe he liked that because organ meat would be a working-class kind of thing. And he loved frogs’ legs and I think it was due to the fact that he spent time in a military hospital in France after the invasion of Normandy.
I recognize now in retrospect the kind of sexism inherent in the food preparation. I also recognize in retrospect that our diet was what you would call working-class poor. Which is what we were. A lot of what my mother cooked would be what we might call foods that stretched. You know, food that would make enough for a family of five, at least put something in their bellies. We didn’t go without food, thanks to my mother, but we often felt unsatisfied. So we ate stuff like chipped beef on toast and then we learned that my mother was always adding flour and water to it. But I didn’t know that at the time. Mac and cheese, same kind of thing. Lots of stuff that could be put in a pressure cooker. Corned beef and cabbage.
We ate something called chicken soup with ribbles. Ribbles were little dough balls that you throw in. Tiny ones the size of a peppercorn. I sort of now remember my mother preparing that. Stuffed peppers. I hate those. You put the green peppers in a pressure cooker until the outside is like a piece of cellophane and then there was rice inside it, and maybe bits of hamburger. But I thought the peppers were disgusting. Lebanon bologna sandwiches. A lot of that. Sometimes, if you got the sweet bologna that was a special treat. Fried bologna, that was a good thing. Toasted cheese was always Velveeta. We would have hamburger steaks. She would flatten them out in kind of an oval shape.
Sometimes I would even have catchup sandwiches. That didn’t bother me because we lived up the street from a Heinz factory and I adored the smell of Heinz catchup being prepared. The spices were hanging in the air. To this day I can’t eat any other catchup except Heinz. If somebody puts Heinz on the table, I want it.
We kind of had to eat everything
My brother, my youngest brother, caught fish in the local creek. My middle brother and I would try to catch fish, but my youngest brother was the kind of guy who could catch trout in a puddle on the sidewalk. Occasionally I would catch a fish, usually a sunfish or something like that. Nothing was too small to be thrown back. As long as the trout was at least 6 inches long, we ate it. I remember in the sink my mother cutting the heads off and pulling out the insides. That was gross to me.
We kind of had to eat everything that was there or you just didn’t eat enough. It was supplemented in ways that we could. You learn one thing about being an alcoholic is you have a lot of bar friends. Sometimes we would get venison. In Pennsylvania was a huge deer hunting culture. People would shoot a deer and they wouldn’t be able to eat all of it. Or they would just know my family’s circumstances and they would give us deer meat. Sometimes we would get squirrels too. You can’t get much tougher than a squirrel. I kind of call them tree rats. I remember them just being stringy. But it was protein so we ate it. Veggies were not fresh, ever, except for corn. And maybe tomatoes in the summertime. Because my mother did what was called in south-central Pennsylvania canning. Basically preserving vegetables. So green beans from a glass jar. It wasn’t until I moved to New England that I recognized that green beans could actually be eaten in a green state rather than a gray one! There were jars of tomatoes and so forth. My mother would make spaghetti out of that because it’s another stretched meal.
At times we actually got government surplus food. There was no such thing as food stamps until 1964 when Lyndon Johnson signed it into existence. So if you got government assistance in those days you actually got cans of food and boxes of food. In the movie Repo Man, one of the jokes in that was they’re eating generic food and it was some black and white boxes that just said FOOD on them. And that was actually kind of the way it was. I think it was stuff that maybe was sent to Army bases and so forth. There was a big Army base in our town. I remember that and I remember just giant blocks of Velveeta cheese. And I remember black and white boxes of mac and cheese that was kind of like Kraft mac and cheese. A little packet inside of “cheese stuff” that you mixed with milk or water if you didn’t have the milk. The thing I really remember quite vividly is there were tall cans, maybe like two coffee cans stacked on each other but wider, and there would be tinned beef inside those cans. When you opened them you had to first of all scrape off all the fat that had gone to the surface and then there was kind of jelly underneath it. So you scraped all that away and then there was beef there that had been already cooked and was stringy and so forth.
Our diet improved when my mother got a job at the A&P. She had had waitressing jobs, but she got a job at the A&P and, like a lot of working-class culture, people took care of each other. So she could get steaks that were kind of put aside by the butcher and she got a discount. And so our diet got a little bit better.
We always did eat together if we could, but my father always got first choice of food. And my brothers and I were fed, and my mother would take only small portions and she said that she wasn’t hungry. Which might be true because she drank approximately four pots of coffee a day. I think maybe to give her the energy. It didn’t affect her from sleeping but . . .
My parents got married right after World War II. They actually got married in Atlantic City. My mother had gone down there with one of her sisters because she wanted to see something else, basically. She was working in a hotel and she met my father there. But I think it’s kind of important to realize that there was a culture of food after World War II that basically was a kind of buy-in to convenience foods. And certain types of food. So my father loved hot dogs and baked beans. He loved baked beans out of the can. Particularly that B&M brand which I expect was something from growing up in Worcester. Because there were baked bean factories of B&M all over New England at that time. I think there’s still one in Portland, Maine. He loved that.
He loved white bread. White bread was kind of a specialty thing for his generation. Because he would have grown up during the Great Depression and you would have had to make your own bread. That was kind of a symbol of shame. I remember as an adult coming down to Pennsylvania to visit my father and my mother. And going to the grocery store with my father and I grabbed a loaf of bread. I got a whole grain bread and threw it in the cart. My father took it out, and said no, no, no, no, no! And grabbed Wonder Bread and squeezed it and said, See how soft! So he had that his whole life. And TV dinners, another thing that he really liked. My mother would make TV dinners. We would get some of those frozen ones, but my mother would wash out the tins and then sometimes she would make her own TV dinners, which now I recognize as a cost-cutting thing.
And I also now recognize that the schools – my elementary school – tried to reinforce this. So, under the guise of jobs, vocational training I guess you would call it, representatives from businesses came in. The Heinz guy came in, somebody from the Jello people came in – Jello was ubiquitous, it was on every table throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s. Hershey Foods rep, and they brought chocolate syrup. Hostess was a big thing. Sometimes they would give out samples, which was really cool. You know, I loved Twinkies and cupcakes. I even ate those disgusting snowballs that they made, those little marshmallow-covered things. But to this day I don’t like marshmallow very much. But the one I remember really vividly is tragic now to think about it. They brought in the “real” Aunt Jemima to speak to us. And it was just this old Black woman who had a kerchief on her head and so forth, and a little bit of makeup so she looked a little bit like the Aunt Jemima logo that used to be on pancake boxes. And she didn’t say anything, she just was there. The whole elementary school got to walk around her and say, “Oh, there’s Aunt Jemima.” That was the whole thing. Oh my god!
A lot of sugar and fat
The only other thing I would say about my family is because there wasn’t an abundance of food, there tended to be extravagance at holidays and birthdays and Christmas. There was a lot of extravagance buying presents that couldn’t be afforded. But food also. It was like Norman Rockwell . . . the big turkey. And dressing. To this day I prefer the dressing from the inside of the turkey. And because of baking. My mother was, again, a very good baker, so we could be pleased by cookies and cinnamon buns. We did get to go to the Amish markets. The Amish would come in with their buggies and there were Amish markets in the town, and we’d get to sample some of that stuff too. I think a lot of sugar. We ate a lot of sugar. Still, unfortunately, have more of a desire for it than I should.
I did have Scottish influences also in my family. I’m going to be third generation Scottish-American. So my paternal grandfather who was still in Worcester, he was a Scottish immigrant. And one of my aunts on my father’s side married a Scottish guy who ran a grocery store in Worcester, which is remarkable. I grew up hearing a Scottish accent because my neighbor was Scottish in Pennsylvania. But nobody could understand anything that my Uncle Al said. I don’t know how he ran a store, but he did.
Another great food moment in my childhood growing up was to see my folks in Worcester. Which was very rare. I think my grandfather was very ill in my childhood and close to death. But my aunt made pineapple upside-down cake. And I thought maybe that was the most exotic thing that I could ever imagine. And then I learned to make it and I thought, Oh, that’s pretty simple.
In terms of any kinds of rituals, on birthdays you got to have whatever you wanted. Not everybody, just you. You got to have whatever you wanted. My birthday meal was always a steak. And my mother made what she called a “live coconut cake,” which meant that she got a coconut, she scraped the inside, she used the coconut milk. She made cake from scratch, which was really kind of a special thing. Of course, I shared the cake with everybody. But only I had that steak. They’d go, How come he gets to have the steak? Well, on your birthday you can have whatever you want.
Christmas cookies, huge ritual. My mother made dozens and dozens and dozens of different kinds of cookies. I don’t even know what most of them were anymore, but I do have a fondness for peanut butter blossoms, which was certainly part of that. Two strange rituals that we had. There was a Coca-Cola bottling plant in town, and their way of getting you hooked was you could save Coca-Cola bottle caps on a big strip like S&H green stamps. And if you saved enough of them you got a football. We got a lot of our footballs that way. By drinking Coke and saving enough bottle caps and we could go right to the factory and get a big discount on a case of Coke. So you see there was a lot of sugar and fat in our diet. The same thing with baseball cards. We all saved baseball cards and my father would take us, not to the store that was right near us but a little bit farther away, and we’d buy boxes of these and then we would save that awful Topp’s gum that was inside there, that long pink strip with corn starch on it, so we could get the cards. And then we would stuff a whole bunch of that in our mouth so we could pretend we were these baseball players who chewed tobacco. My dad was quite amused by that.
There were also candy stores. There were candy stores right down the street from where I lived and my elementary school was about a block away. There was a bar where we could always find my father on one corner and the candy store was on the other. And then houses and the fire department and then my elementary school. That was the corner. You’d go in and there were the big jars of candy, with the jawbreakers and so forth. I always had a little pocket change. My parents would give me a little bit of pocket change. It was always a dilemma. Do I spend a penny for five pieces of candy or do I really splurge and get a Milky Way?
I have another kind of corollary to the Aunt Jemima story. Because we were working-class poor, we were very close to what was called cardboard city, the temporary barracks that were built during the War that then became places where African-Americans lived. It was bad, bad housing. I mean it was never supposed to be housing on a long-term basis. But we were right up against what was a Black neighborhood, so my elementary school had a lot of Black kids. One of my best friends was an African-American kid named Boyd. He and I always went to the candy store together. And there was this box of candy that was basically full of corn syrup chewies. They were called little chocolate babies. Except everybody referred to them as nigger babies. And I remember going with Boyd to that store a lot and Boyd would ask for a box of nigger babies and everybody would laugh. We had no idea why they were laughing. And then, when Boyd found out what it was, he became very sullen and we weren’t as good friends anymore. That confused me. When we were adults I told him that I didn’t know when I was a kid and he said, “Yeah, I know.” It was a hurtful moment for both of us, but he before me, and I guess he thought I should have figured it out sooner.
That town, even though it was in Pennsylvania, it was a Jim Crow town. When you went to the local courthouse there were underground rest rooms and it was Men, Women, and Colored. There was a Colored water fountain. People would be polite. When you were being polite in those days you would refer to the “Colored people.” I certainly never used that slur. I never even knew that slur. I heard my father rant and rave sometimes when he was drunk but I just didn’t know what it meant. And so, I think Boyd felt like I must have known, that I was part of the joke. And I wasn’t.
Never a shortage of food on the farm
I contrast this with what I had with my grandparents on the farm. I realize because I was the oldest I was “farmed out” in the summer pretty much to get away from my father’s drinking. The thinking was that my two brothers were young enough that they didn’t quite “get” what was going on. They apparently didn’t know. I certainly did. It scarred me when I went to junior high school. Sometimes I’d be really nervous. But I spent basically the entire summer on my grandparents’ farm. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. I loved my grandparents dearly. In Pennsylvania there were what were called “Plain People.” So if you were thinking about the most conservative, that would have been the Amish, and then the Mennonites were the next step up. And then my grandparents belonged to a very, very conservative branch of Lutheranism. So on Sundays I could only play with Noah’s Ark. But I loved them dearly, and I loved them also because of the food. There was never a shortage of food on the farm.
Now on this farm — this would have been where my mother grew up – there was always beef hanging up in the root cellar which was underneath the house. There were walls of canned goods – more gray green beans. There were always pigs, so there was always sausage. There was always bacon. There was always pancakes. My grandmother would make giant crocks of sauerkraut in the fall. Carrots – but, again, they were almost never served fresh. They were always canned. She had a big garden and she would get things throughout the year and then they would be preserved. You had to “put it up,” that was the phrase. That’s what you did. There was homemade bread. There were always eggs because they had chickens. I have memories of going in and trying not to get scratched by the chickens as I was getting eggs out of the coop.
Here’s the other thing: everything on a farm was fried. And that included steak. It would be dredged in flour and fried. And of course it was fried in lard. My grandmother had a lard can beside the stove. Anything that was left after frying, she poured back into the can. Everything was in lard, but there was a lot of food. Homemade ice cream in the churn, that was a great treat. So I ate well. I did eat some weird stuff. Dandelion greens, ate that. That was done in a pressure cooker. Scrapple, yuck. People down in Pennsylvania today, now that I embrace my Scottish heritage and I eat haggis, they tell me, Oh, that’s disgusting. And I say, But you guys eat scrapple. What is in that? I don’t know if anybody actually knows. But always pies. My grandmother was a great pie baker, usually fruit pies. Although she also made two pies that were of that era, of that region: Montgomery pie and shoofly pie. They’re both molasses-based, but Montgomery pie is more of a sponge and shoofly pie was crumbs and the molasses was on the bottom. But mainly fruit pies and I loved the fruit pies.
There were two rituals that I remember. We always ate together at my grandparents’ farm. Always ate together. I don’t remember them praying, but I do remember seeing my grandmother kind of nodding. She put her hands together and nodded. But if my aunts were not at the table, you’d hear my grandmother scream upstairs, “Evelyn, get down here now!” We always ate together, but there were two special rituals. There was Faschnaut day, which was around Lent. On that day my grandmother would drag out her deep fryer – my mother had a deep fryer too, because you did, one did – and she would make homemade doughnuts. She’d plop them in the deep fryer, pull them out, give you a paper bag filled with powdered sugar and you’d shake, shake, shake, and eat these things. And, man, you just didn’t want to eat more than two of them. They were h – e – a – v- y. But that was a great ritual.
Pancakes that were stacked up
The big ritual was harvest. This is farm country and basically farmers pooled their neighbors to bring in each other’s harvest. So when it was your turn to have all the other farmers come in, there was a special room that had a great big wooden table that was never used for anything except the harvest. And these farmers would come in, and my goodness, there were sausages piled up, pancakes that were stacked up to what seemed the ceiling to me. You name it, it was on there. It was bacon and French toast and all that kind of stuff. And they ate, ate, ate, ate. Then they went out to the field. I would guess that they were consuming about 5,000 calories, or something like that. But they went out in the field and they worked until the sun went down. Lunch was kind of catch as catch can. They would come back in the evening and the same thing happened with fried steaks and canned vegetables, preserved vegetables. I have incredible memories of those neighbors sitting there. They had amazing appetites. But they got the harvest in. And then a little bit later there would be a smaller ritual like that where they would help you slaughter. One or two would come over.
It was mixed farming. The farm was wheat, some oats, corn, and dairy. It’s interesting with the dairy that I also remember growing up with fresh, unpasteurized milk and cream skimmed off the top of the can. There were local creameries in those days. Hershey doesn’t hold a warm spot in my heart for anything other than the hockey team now because Hershey was the reason that my grandfather had to go to work. Those local creameries were all bought up by Hershey and then the price for milk went down and my grandfather couldn’t make a go of it unless he had a part-time job. He was a farmer, so he would drive into the town where I grew up and he would work in a chicken processing factory. He was gumping chickens essentially — kind of an all-purpose term for pulling out the insides, picking pin feathers, you name it. You did that on the farm. We would go out in the farmyard and grab a chicken and cut off the head. I think it’s still a word used in those places like North Carolina, the Perdue factories where all the immigrants do this now. That’s why it’s Forrest Gump, by the way. Gump is a kind of low-class word. So we also had chicken a lot on the farm, always fried. You just didn’t broil a chicken, you didn’t put it on a rotisserie or anything like that.
When I would go back home in the fall, about 20 miles away, in junior and senior high school school, food was actually . . . I won’t say it was good although I did like the barbecue sandwiches. We had a joke about hoagies. There wasn’t much meat in them and a lot of lettuce. We would say, Oh, yeah, the stuff is grass after they cut the fields. In grade school you walked home for your lunch. If your parents weren’t there, you’d go eat with somebody in the neighborhood. Usually canned tomato soup and a toasted cheese sandwich. But in junior high you got balanced meals. They weren’t necessarily good, but they were always balanced. So school food was the first time I ever thought about, yeah, these things complement each other. I think basically school taught me that you should have a balanced diet. The portions were smaller than maybe you get at home but because I was eating vegetables also, not just all protein or all carbohydrates. I don’t know if I actually had those words in junior high school but I was kind of getting it.
Very plain food
My mother was a very good cook and my grandmother was a great cook. But it was of a very plain food type. So potatoes were never baked. They were always mashed or fried. Steaks were fried. Until my mother went to work at the A&P. Then she learned about broiling steaks. My mother was a good cook. So when I was in junior high school she started to teach me how to cook a little bit and I liked that. I became good enough that I would experiment a little bit. I was furious when I went to junior high school that they forced me to take shop. I wasn’t allowed to take home ec because that was only for girls. And partly that was a reason to take it. But I always was good at food. I was terrible with my hands. It’s criminal what I did in shop to perfectly good wood.
One of the good things about being working poor was that I got out of college with zero debt. By that time, of course, I was also working a little bit so I had some pocket money. I would go downtown to what everybody called the Greeks, because all the restaurants in this town were owned by Greek immigrants. I went there a lot. I’d go sometimes with my dad to the Greeks, but I would go there after school. They never had Greek food. It was short order stuff. That’s where you got a real hoagie, not the stuff stuffed with grass. Later I realized that the secret ingredient was mayonnaise!
I only knew about plain food until I went to college and I met some people in college, a state college in south-central Pennsylvania. One of my classmates I hung out with was Icelandic. I can’t say that I’d recommend that food, but I did meet somebody through one of my college professors who is still a dear, dear friend of mine. This was my great mentor in college. He’s still a good friend, he’s 83 now and I go to see him whenever I’m down there and take him places. Because he’s never driven. But, yeah, he would have these parties and I would meet people with the college who had broader perspectives. And they would talk about places and I would start thinking about that. But I also had another friend from college who married this woman named Marcy. And Marcy – she was kind of a hippie — and she was the first person I knew who would actually make wholemeal grain bread. And make zucchini bread. I never heard of that. And actually some fresh vegetables.
Fresh food was just a revelation
I didn’t really know a lot about that until I got married and we moved to Vermont. Vermont was a revelation. I’d never eaten a bagel until I went to Vermont. I’d never really prepared vegetables on my own for a meal until I went up there. Fresh food was just a revelation. It’s weird to go to Vermont to discover fresh vegetables. Preparing food different ways was a revelation. That you could do certain things with food, with vegetables, that was a revelation. Ethnic food. You didn’t have ethnic food where I grew up. We had something that was called American chop suey, which was canned stuff that you’d dump in with those crunchy noodles, not sprouts or anything like that. And put whatever meat you had with it. And that was American chop suey. Well, I discovered there was actual Chinese food! That was kind of a revelation.
There were no Chinese restaurants in my home town. It was pretty isolated. Two hours to a major city. You could get to Philadelphia in about two and a half hours. You could get to Baltimore in two hours. And I would get crab cakes if my father took me to a baseball game. Now my father grew up with seafood, but it just wasn’t available there. Not at this period of time.
So Burlington was filled with ethnic restaurants. I mean real Italian food. Poutine – to this day you can go to Al’s French Frys in Burlington and get poutine to put on them, cheese curds. I actually had real Greek food for the first time, in Burlington, Vermont. I mean nothing disparaging about the Greeks back in Pennsylvania but they knew who their audience was, so that’s what they gave them. There was the French-Canadian influence in Vermont. There was a really fantastic French restaurant in Burlington. Alas, it’s no longer there. But that was a special occasion restaurant. It was called the Deja Vu Café. Boy, that was incredible food.
Oh, Indian restaurants, my gosh. Never knew Indian restaurants in this town in south-central Pennsylvania. So ethnic food, all over the map. Moroccan food. I discovered Ethiopian food living up in Vermont when I took a trip to Ottawa. Because we were right on the Canadian border. Ottawa is only three and a half hours away. Montreal was less than two. So you’d go up there and discover everything that those places had to offer. We were recently married so we didn’t have a lot of money, but you could still sample, and say I’ve got to come back here, or I’m going to try to make this.
I never knew about premium ice cream and I go to Vermont and I’m near Burlington and there’s Ben & Jerry’s. Yay! I never knew that you could bake chicken. Those kinds of things were kind of revelatory to me. Thanks to my mother, who was a really good cook, really good baker, I would get cookbooks and I would look at that. Started off with the Sunset easy prep. I think it was Sunset that used to make these cookbooks about one-pot cooking. I still have that one, by the way, because it’s good. I would look at a few of those and then I would look at other books and I would just start to mess around with food. In Pennsylvania there were no spices other than salt, pepper, sugar, and oregano. So basil was a revelation. And, oh my goodness, tarragon. My father and mother came up for one visit I remember, from Pennsylvania to Vermont, and I made a stir-fry. And my dad just went crazy – he loved it. So my mother got the recipe and he had stir-fry for the rest of his life. I was able to teach my mother about spices.
We had access to seafood in Vermont. There was a place near us called Malletts Bay restaurant. It was just a little inlet on Lake Champlain, but the restaurant there featured seafood. They would have it trucked up from Boston essentially. And there were the twin lobsters and my dad just thought that was wonderful. That took him back to his childhood. I think maybe he wouldn’t have eaten lobster prior to that. He’d talk about lobster a lot but we never ate it. A, it was too expensive, and B, it was poor people’s food when he was growing up. Getting two lobsters at that point, in the ‘80s, it was like $5.99, $6.99 maybe, and he thought that was great. So I discovered seafood and of course I’m living in Massachusetts and it became even more something I would eat.
Crêpes! Nobody ate crêpes in Pennsylvania. Chocolate! The really premium good chocolate. I grew up with Hershey bars. I never particularly liked them that much because Hershey’s is sort of famous for a sour afternote. When we got married we went to London on our honeymoon. London and Paris. My goodness, Cadbury was a major revelation. And then go up to Vermont and discover dark chocolate. It’s taken me a while to learn to love dark chocolate, which I prefer now, since I grew up on milk chocolate. I still have great fondness for Cadbury.
Another thing I discovered was wine. Nobody drank wine in Pennsylvania. To this day, if you go to that area and you drink wine, it’s the sweet stuff. It’s from the Niagara area. Didn’t know about good wine until I moved to New England. I didn’t know about beer that served any purpose other than to get you blitzed, if you were cheap and out of money. If I talked about the troika of things that impacted me almost immediately in New England it would have been Ben & Jerry’s, it would have been Bruegger’s bagels, and Sam Adams. And then I got educated about wine pretty much when we moved to Massachusetts.
Coming here, another college town. And my best friend is French. I’ve gone to France with him and had escargots and those kinds of things. I couldn’t have imagined that as a kid. Just couldn’t. So my diet has changed tremendously. Although it’s interesting if you think of it in a historical context. In the colonial era New England fed the Chesapeake colonies because all that land was put to tobacco and moved into cotton in the deep south. And they didn’t grow food. So New England exported food to the slave states. It’s an amazing thing to think about, that I discovered food in the mainland. It’s really one of the great impacts of the Civil War for the Southern economy, was the reshifting of their food economy so that they actually started to grow food for use, rather than food for export. Because during the Civil War some of that stuff that they grew was supplanted. The English couldn’t get enough cotton from the slave states so they got it from Egypt. They imported food from India.
Food has been a big part of my life. Wanting it, discovering it, being satisfied by it, being thrilled by it. Imagine a kid from south-central Pennsylvania going to Paris. You see the French cuisine and you go, “Oh, my god.”