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From Garden to Table: A Taste of the Past Comes to the Montgomery Library

By Jessie Havens | October 17, 2022

A culinary historian will talk about the food and gardens of the early Dutch settlers on Saturday, November 12, from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Montgomery Library.

Widely known for her many books about early Dutch settlers’ food and customs, Peter G. Rose is also sought after nationally for her lectures cleverly using paintings and engravings by old Dutch masters to illustrate what she describes and give it another dimension of historical relevance. The Van Harlingen Historical Society invited Rose to introduce Montgomery to the realities behind the good eating which went from garden to table in the homes of Dutch settlers who came to Montgomery from New Netherland and transformed a forested wilderness into prosperous farms.

Exotic spices – maize and nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon – together with lavish use of butter and eggs transformed basic yeast doughs into holiday sweet breads and pastries, baked in brick ovens and wide hearths, yielded loved waffles and pancakes.

Rose is Dutch herself and thus was curious about the heritage New Netherland had left in the Hudson Valley when she came there to live. Ancient record books gathering dust in New York archives because no one could read Dutch proved to be a great source. Heirloom journals kept by long-ago housewives were another. Museums and folklore told her more about the culture Dutch settlers brought with them from a nation grown rich from worldwide trade.

Culinary Historian Peter G. Rose.

As many as two dozen varieties of vegetables grew in their gardens and there were special recipes for each in its season. Yet, with all this variety, the basic foundation of their diet was bread, included in every meal whether it be a bowl of porridge or a feast.

Wheat was the primary cash crop and was also milled into bread flour. But rye bread was considered more healthful, so farmers grew some of that as well, also corn and oats and buck wheat. Some of everything meant there was no season when something or other needed to be done. Hence life was work, work, work and that made feast days and celebrations all the more special. So women folk worked harder than ever to make sure all the traditional goodies were ready to put on their tables.

An ad from our sponsor:

Happily, Garden to Table by Peter G. Rose will not be a Dutch treat. It will be free and open to all; Saturday afternoon, November 12, from 2 to 4 in Montgomery Library. Parking is ample, but seating is limited and there is no advance sign-up.


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