Tell us about cornbread
February 28, 2013 4:28 PM   Subscribe

I am at a meetup in Boston at a German restaurant (Jacob Wirth) and we have been served cornbread as an appetizer, but none of the mefites present thinks of cornbread as a German food. Can anyone tell us if there is some Germanic cuisine connection we are missing here? Hope us, please -- a half-dozen curious mefites are baffled.
posted by ricochet biscuit to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's an Olde Boston food, not a German food. Cornbread was a staple of the "free lunch" of 19th century bars (which Wirth's is) because you could whip it up quickly, as opposed to yeast breads, and it kept longer.

The Wirth's cornbread is really good. Also the pickles.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:31 PM on February 28, 2013 [9 favorites]

Best answer: It's a thing in Boston
Boston figures prominently in the debate about how corn bread should be made. In 1634, landowner Israel Stoughton built the first corn mill on the Neponset River in Milton, which was used by Pilgrims from the Plymouth Bay Colony and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Among several corn bread recipes listed in “The White House Cook Book’’ (1887) is one for “Boston Corn Bread,’’ which calls for lots of molasses. The sweet corn bread featured at Durgin-Park restaurant enjoys mass appeal.
posted by jessamyn at 4:34 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lest we forget the wonderful desert popluar in New England which is made from corn meal, molasses, etc. -- and available at Durgin Park and elsewhere. Indian Pudding. Yum!
posted by ericb at 5:04 PM on February 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

The Wirth's cornbread is better than the Durgin-Park cornbread by far, but the Durgin-Park Indian pudding is really good. Just get it without the ice cream, because they have terrible ice cream.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:06 PM on February 28, 2013

Thanks be to the Wampanoags for teaching those at Plimoth Plantation on how to grow/harvest corn. The staple was used in place of other European grains familiar to the Pilgrims and led to these early pre-colonial and later colonial recipes.
posted by ericb at 5:10 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Tolkien's "Journey cakes" are known heah abawts as Johnny Cakes. Journey cakes is the correct term, as the Narragansett made them and ate them on their way inland from the coast in autumn.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:18 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I knew them as johnnycakes growing up.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:31 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, in tribute to this, the Corn Muffin is the State Muffin, which I know from the "Roadrunner" thread.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:00 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Slap*Happy, grab a box of Johnny Cake mix, put on your favorite robe & wizard hat, bake up some Lembas, and start LARPing!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:04 AM on March 1, 2013

I always thought of cornbread as a southern thing. My wife brought her recipe with her from South Carolina, but when we moved to Vermont we quickly swapped out the molasses for local maple syrup, and have never looked back.
posted by terrapin at 6:26 AM on March 4, 2013

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