The PA Melting pot creates an Ethnic Triangle of multiple nationalities in SE Ohio, SW PA and NW WV. There are 12 MAJOR ethnic immigrant groups from the 1700’s to the 1960’s. This series of articles will focus on these immigrant groups and their cuisine THEN and NOW!!
influx of African-Americans (1910-1930) from Virginia, Georgia, Alabama and the
Carolinas increased the black population 115% in the southwestern PA area. They immigrated because they were recruited by northern industries to break white workers' strikes. They didn't get paid much and were allotted minimal amounts for living.
Even though the Wagner Act in 1935 was passed which gave workers the right to collective
bargaining and blacks were allowed to join
unions, there was still much discrimination and often they were not eligible
for government housing for misplaced families. They lived frugally as they had in the South. More immigration occurred from World War II to 1950.
FOOD HISTORY: From the
south they brought the knowledge of wild greens cooked with ham hocks and other slave dishes. What was
discarded from the main house by their masters was eaten by their slave ancestors. This was
where the term “soul food” originated. Castoffs from the main house included: pigs’ feet, hind-parts, jowls, intestines,
cow brains and tongues and others. The
southern slaves cooked the bitter collard, mustard and turnip greens with pork
leftovers. This “make-do” or “soul food”
which was the mainstay at that time and its transformation now has become part of white and
black households today.
Collard Greens, Shrimp Pilau (bacon, onion, tomato, hot pepper, parsley, rice,
shrimp stock, shrimp), Cornbread,
Cracklin’ Corn Bread (cracklins
are pork rinds), Sweet Potato
(chicken breasts, onions, tomatoes, garlic, ketchup, peanut butter, cayenne,
hard boiled eggs), Shrimp Creole(green
pepper, garlic, butter, tomatoes, lemon juice, Tabasco, shrimp, rice), Sweet Potato Pone (sweet potato
bread) and Old Fashioned Hoecake(corn meal, flour, bacon fat, etc. –
NOTE: This was called Hoecake because out in the fields often they didn’t have cooking
pots so they baked the bread on a hot hoe over a fire!!)
Scalloped Pineapple(sugar, butter, eggs, white bread, milk, crushed
pineapple baked in casserole & topped with whipped cream or as side dish to
meats), Sweet Potato Pie (I
think everyone knows what this is), Southern
Ham & Brown Beans, Fried
Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Black-eyed Peas and Gumbo, Sausage Biscuits and Gravy, Gritsin various ways, Hoppin’ John(a thick, hearty stew of
black-eyed peas, ham, and rice served on New Year’s Day for good luck), Pinto Beans with pork, Chow-Chow(not really from the
South although they claim it – from the PA Dutch who immigrated to the south), Black eyed-peas, Hush puppies, Corn poneand the list goes on.
NOTE: OXTAIL STEW IS ANOTHER RECIPE TO BE INCLUDED. IT ORIGINALLY CAME FROM JAMAICA.
immigrants came to western PA in two waves because of religious persecution,
the potato famine …
Please see photos about Ireland at bottom of blog. There are three links before the photos near bottom of page that may interest you:
Sunny Anderson does Irish on Foodnetwork
Irish Food Timeline
1800’s and on
By 1850 10,000 in Pittsburgh
Settled in Pittsburgh and southwestern PA
From Ulster in Northern Ireland
Others came from Leinster, Munster and Connaught
Area’s first most significant Catholic influx
The Protestant hold on Pittsburgh created an
Late 19th century emerged as a force of
17 % of the southwestern PA population claim Irish as part of their heritage.
foods: Potato Onion Soup, Irish
style; Dublin Coddle (potatoes, pork, ham); Colcannon (potatoes, kale, leeks),
etc. The Irish also used recipes with
cabbage: boiled cabbage with smoked pork butt, Irish boiled dinner (brisket,
cabbage, beer, potatoes). The Hunters left
legacies of lamb & beef dishes such as Irish Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb, Lamb
Stew and Steak and Potato Pie. The Fisherman provided Irish smoked Fish &
Rice with Saffron (Kedgeree) and Scallop and Mushroom Pie. The farmers left the legacy of Irish Soda
Bread, Oat Bread, Potato recipes, Irish Peas... Irish desserts: Donegal Oatmeal Cream, Chocolate Potato Cake, Apple Amber (pastry, apples,