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!!
Melting Pot: A look at the evolution
of food in southwestern Pa. Part 2 - GREAT BRITAIN: Part 3: England and Wales.
The British were the first to settle permanently in
western PA and early settlers included the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish,
as well as German, drawn by mining, shipping, and manufacturing and escaping
religious persecution. These people
formed the foundation of Pittsburgh, still physically visible in the oldest
parts of the city.
The combined English population in Allegheny
& Fayette Counties is 17.44%.
The English breakfast is hearty and includes
toast and great marmalade (orange, grapefruit, lemons, water and sugar). Common foods include Oxtail Soup (appetizer),
English Leg of Lamb Nelson, Beefsteak and Kidney Pie, Toad-in-the-Hole
(Yorkshire pudding with sausage links), Trifle (vanilla custard with sherry,
raspberry jam, almond macaroons, cream, cherries and almonds) and English
A fancy 18th
century dinner would start with beef sirloin, fish, veal shoulder and tongue
served with claret and cider. Following that first course would be almond
pudding, fritters, chickens, black puddings, (black pudding
aka blood pudding in southern US aka blutwurst in Germany is a sausage with a
blend of onions, pork fat, oatmeal, flavorings and pig blood. As long as animals have been slaughtered to
provide food, blood sausages like black pudding have been in existence.) and
soup served with wine and beer. The third
course could include hot venison pastry, hare, rabbit, pigeon, partridge, goose
and ham served with beer and wine. A dram
of brandy was served after this course.
The desserts might Bakewell Tart (a pastry with a layer of jam and
ground almonds), Banoffee Pie (bananas,
cream toffee, pastry) and Cherries Jubilee (wild cherries, liqueur which is
flambéed & served over vanilla ice cream).
At the very end of the meal the women would retire to another room for
tea and the men would enjoy cheese & burgundy.
The first and second immigrations of the Welsh were to eastern Pennsylvania
(counties of Montgomery, Bucks, Berks and Lancaster) & to central PA in
Cambria County and were due largely to the desire of Welsh Quakers for
religious freedom and escape from persecution and for the creation of a
separate colony or “barony” in America.
Many were miners. They further immigrated to western PA since many Welsh were also
skilled industrial workers who were eager to work in the steel mills. There is a dedicated Welsh room in the
Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh. The combined Welsh population in Allegheny
& Fayette Counties is Co. is only 2% but significant in the development of
western PA foods. 7 of our US presidents were of Welsh ancestry.
Their common foods were Crempog (crepes made with currants) which
were served as dessert or at tea, Pelenni Cig (meatballs made with pork or beef liver, onions, sage
& thyme), Welsh Rarebit (sharp cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, dried
mustard) which was served over toast for a light evening supper or Sunday
Brunch, Cennin Yn (Leek pie: leeks have a garlic/green onion taste), Cacennau (sweet
currant fried biscuits), Sgons (scones with added cheese for savory and
currants/raisins for fruit), Pastai Pork Oer (cold pork pie with onion, sage,
Worcestershire) and Cawl Cennin a Thatws (leek & potato soup). Drinks
(diodydd) include Meads (Medd) and a Beetroot drink (Gwin Betys).
Christine Willard, a native of
western Pennsylvania, researches and blogs about the food unique to western
Pennsylvania. She currently resides in North Carolina. Her blog is www.ThePAMeltingPot.com.