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Benjamin Franklin’s Birthday - what did he eat?

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So, Friday, January 17th would have been Benjamin Franklin’s 308th birthday. Why not celebrate this man of great diversity, thought and compassion by fixing one of his favorite dishes for dinner on Friday.

Franklin, along with Thomas Jefferson was indeed one of the greatest minds of his day and certainly one of the forerunners of our founding fathers. What would he have eaten? Hmm, when researching the foods of his period most sources referred to recipes and cooking modes of the colonial era. To think that Franklin and Jefferson ate as the founders of Jamestown ate has just about as much validity as saying that they ate what FDR ate. Please remember that the same amount of time elapsed between the founding of James Town and the American Revolution as elapsed between the American Revolution and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Now granted, things like eating habits altered far more rapidly during that second 160-plus years than they did during the first 160-pluss years. Non the less, eating habits cannot be thought to have stood still from the time of John Smith until the time of Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin may have been the first advocate of “Eating Local.” He was a staunch supporter of native American foods and missed them greatly while he was aboard.

While in London he asked his wife to ship him barrels of cranberries and apples, in particular, Newton Pippins. He was amazed that the potato had gained small favor in Europe, so much so that he once sponsored a dinner at which he was guest of honor where potatoes were used in every dish served, including dessert.

Franklin not only was fond of turkey as an economical source of good meat, he wished it to be the national bird instead of the Bald Eagle.

“For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird and withal a true Native of America … He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

He was extremely fond of American corn, “maze,” enjoying it, green and boiled or roasted in it’s leaves or dried and boiled with dried beans. He also enjoyed it when ground into meal and made into “Hasty Pudding.”

“Pray let me, an American, inform the gentleman, who seems ignorant of the matter, that Indian corn, take it for all in all, is one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world...”

His love of apples and his love of good pastry are combined in this recipe for Baked Apple Dumplings.

For more information about this man of great vision visit my website, The Questing Feast.

And you may now listen to me every Monday from 4 to 5 PM Pacific Time on KGGV-The Bridge at 95.1 FM or streaming worldwide at KGGV-Blogspot .

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