Growing a Patriotic Garden and Menu for the Holidays
This Thanksgiving, are you going patriotic on your dinner party? Does your pilgrim menu hearken back to only that which the Native Americans served? That sounds fun! Educational! And limited! If your menu is missing some flavors, think bigger. Like Statue of Liberty big, this land is your land, big. There are a lot of fun flavors and foods that are very ‘merican.
Because America’s dinner tables are just that, a flavorful mix of other nation’s cuisines. So while it is good to honor what grew natively in our land, it’s très American to add hints of flavor from around the world, honoring that poem carved on the base of Lady Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus’s words are so powerful, I wouldn’t dare change them. But if I did, it might go a little like this:
Give me your meatballs, your macaroni,
Your spaghetti, yearning to breathe free…
If I could add on, it would be to ask all immigrants to continue sharing the food and recipes from their native lands, letting us all continue to learn, taste, and grow. NPR’s The Salt highlighted this very sentiment in their piece “A Journey Through the History of American Food in 100 Bites.” “Apple pie isn’t American in the way people often mean. Every ingredient, from apples to butter to nutmeg and cinnamon, came from somewhere else.
“But then, so do most Americans.”
Let’s start with Brussels sprouts. “Sprouts were believed to have been cultivated in Italy in Roman times, and possibly as early as the 1200s in Belgium. The modern Brussels sprout that we are familiar with was first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium (hence the name “Brussels” sprouts) as early as 1587, with their introduction into the U.S. in the 1800s. They were grown in California in the early 1900s, with the first central coast plantings in the 1920s.”
Mother Nature Network has 10 recipes guaranteed to make your mouth water, though I swear by the same simple one I posted about cauliflower.
To grow your own Brussels sprouts:
- Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost. (Overnight frosts bring out the sweetness in the plants.)
- Work fertilizer into soil a few days before planting or transplanting.
- Plant transplant seedlings 12-24 inches apart.
- According to OrganicGardening.com, small sprouts (about 1-inch diameter) are the most tender. Harvest them as they mature from the bottom of the stalk upward. Remove sprouts by twisting them from the stem. Pinching off the plant tops forces sprouts to mature faster. Just before a severe freeze, uproot the plants, remove any remaining leaves, and hang the “logs” upside down in a cool place for a few more weeks of harvesting.
What are you preparing or planting for your cross-cultural/American Thanksgiving? Leave a note in the comment section , or tell us on Twitter! @TheCityFarm & @RebeccaSnavely
(Photo Credit: UndergroundWineLetter.com, ClarendonSquare)