Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving: Don’t Forget the Succotash!

Of course you have your own traditions. But I’d like to make a pitch for a dish that surely was part of that first feast at Plymouth Plantation, where the settlers who survived the first brutal winter of famine, disease, and cold ate, thanks to the generosity and pity of the American Indians, their first harvested crops. My grandmother insisted on this each year, and I never, ever ate it. Actually, she could not get anyone else to eat it either, except for my mother.
Now I do eat my succotash, and I love it. There is something wonderfully simple about this dish—nothing but veggies, butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg—but nevertheless sweet, creamy, tenderly meaty, and satisfying. I use the local lima beans and sweet corn, blanched in a blink and frozen just last month, but quality commercially frozen baby limas and corn do nicely. There’s no recipe per se: just slowly heat the vegetables straight from the freezer in lots of unsalted butter and seasoning until tender. Pop in a splash of heavy cream from time to time—cream improves everything, doesn’t it?—and experience, alongside your turkey, cranberry, and pumpkin pie, the honest pleasure of a truly American meal. And don’t forget to raise a glass of Zinfandel, one of our oldest wines, and say, “thanks.” We are lucky indeed.

No comments: