March 16, 2009

Indian Pudding!

It's been a while since I've posted anything. I could tell you it's because work has been so busy, but there's another reason - it's because I've been busy making Indian pudding!

A quick FAQ about Indian pudding:

- It's not from India. That delicious pudding you get in Indian restaurants is called kheer.

- American Indians didn't create it, either. But, since it is made with cornmeal, the Puritans called it Indian pudding. (What modern Americans call corn, a.k.a maize, was originally called Indian corn, to differentiate it from what the English called corn, which was really any grain. Hopefully, that's not too confusing!)

- Indian pudding is a dessert that has been made in New England for hundreds of years. The basic recipe involves cornmeal, milk, molasses, and some spices. There are lots of recipes floating on the Web: traditional, microwave, and even vegan.

- I think it's one of those dishes, like baked beans, that a Puritan housewife could just throw in the stove while she went to church for a long, long time. Then, when church was over, she could come home and make herself feel better after all the damnation talk by eating slow-baked cornmeal sweetened with molasses.

- When I was in middle school, it was sometimes served for dessert as part of the hot lunch program. I don't remember any school lunch desserts except this one, and that's because it's so darn delicious.

- When I was a kid, you could also buy it canned in any supermarket. Now, the only place I've seen it is Whole Foods, where you can buy Bar Harbor brand Indian pudding. I've never tried it, but there's no such thing as bad Indian pudding.

- Although, these taste testers at the Onion really don't like it. I can tell they're not from New England, though, because they had never even heard of Indian pudding. I don't think you should trust their opinion.

- Indian pudding is sometimes called hasty pudding, which is also a venerable Harvard theatrical troupe known for its comedic drag productions. They serve Indian pudding at all their banquets.


Robyn said...

Seriously, and the Onion's review of brown bread? I pretty much had my monitor by the shoulders, shaking it while screaming "You're doing it wrong!" It seems their method for taste testing products involves disregarding all directions on the can and eating it cold with a spoon.

I recently exported myself from Maine to Canada, so it's not as rough as moving to California or something, but people up here still have a lot of learning to do. I'm insisting on celebrating American Thanksgiving, and Indian pudding will be the only dessert.

Peter Muise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Muise said...

Robyn - I agree with you about the Onion. Since they're a satirical site they want to get a laugh from everything, but they probably discourage their readers from trying new food they might actually like. After all, who doesn't like brown bread?

Thanks for the comment, and enjoy Thanksgiving up north!

Fannie Farmer (Mrs.) said...

which could be called
Population Displacement Pudding

“It's sort of like pumpkin pie, without the pumpkin. And without the pie.” - a description of Indian Pudding to a young relative at a Thanksgiving dinner

A personal note: In honor of our New England ancestors, I served Indian Pudding at our family's Thanksgiving dinner this year. There's a LOT of stirring involved. After the holiday I wondered if someone had developed a microwave adaptation with LESS stirring, and I found one at Nancy's Kitchen. [This recipe is the same as the one you link to in your post.]

About the traditional, but anachronistic, name of the dish: The recipe was adapted from the English “hasty pudding”. What's “Indian” about it is the cornmeal, formerly called “Indian meal”. The original inhabitants of North America had neither dairy products nor molasses, although they had developed maple syrup as an ingenious indigenous equivalent for the latter. The molasses used by the colonists was produced on West Indian plantations by the unpaid labor of involuntary emigrants from Africa, who were found to be more suited to such work than the people in place there when Europeans arrived. Anyone wanting a new name reflecting a contextualized historical and multicultural perspective could call it Population Displacement Pudding.

With best wishes,
Fannie Farmer (Mrs.)

[obviously not my real name. but one I use to post comments and recipes at Fafblog!, the surrealistic satire site - I was born and educated in the Boston area, but have lived elsewhere for decades]

Unknown said...

Clark Cooke House in Newport, RI, makes an excellent Indian Pudding...

Rich Clabaugh said...

Fun post Peter, although it got me hungry!