Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thomas Jefferson's Vegetables

Exotic and ordinary vegetables grown at Monticello in Thomas Jefferson's lifetime included: "asparagus bean, sea kale, tomatoes, rutabaga, lima beans, okra, potato pumpkins, winter melons, tree onion, peanuts, 'sprout kale,' serpentine cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussells sprouts, orach [a type of spinach], endive, peanuts, chick peas, cayenne pepper, 'esculent Rhubarb,' black salsify, sesame, eggplant." The grand total was "330 varieties of eighty-nine species of vegetables and herbs, 170 varieties of the finest fruit varieties known at the time."

So I learned in a recent article about Jefferson's agricultural activities: "Thomas Jefferson's Legacy in Gardening and Food" by Peter Hatch, Director of Gardens and Grounds for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Many new food preparations and traditions got a start in the Monticello kitchen and garden, possibly including: "French fries, peanuts, Johnny-cakes, gumbo, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pudding, sesame seed oil, fried eggplant, perhaps such American icons as potato chips, tomato catsup, and pumpkin pie."

According to the author, "The Jefferson legacy supporting small farmers, vegetable cuisine, and sustainable agriculture is poignantly topical today."

I had only a vague idea of Jefferson's work as a promoter of farming and wine culture. This article fills in some gaps about vegetables.

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

Very interesting. I always learn something from your food posts. I wonder what orach tastes like...?