As 2018 comes to the finish line it is time to reflect on the past before we move into a new year. As members and friends of HFR, Inc. many of us are curious about the celebration surrounding holidays in times past. Much is written about Flat Rock being the “Little Charleston of the Mountains”. Seeking a deeper understanding of our past we honor the Cherokee and the settlers who moved into the area before the Revolutionary War. This area experiences both Patriots and Tories. The Blue Ridge was explored after the Cherokee retreated. Looking farther back people came from Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and England.
While the summer residents were back in Charleston, Beaufort, New Orleans, Savannah, Atlanta and the Georgia Low-country, the full-time residents – those who were the farmers, builders, merchants, tradespeople and entrepreneurs – prepared for winter. Let’s remember that without the early saw and grist mills and farm lands this area would not have prospered. The story of these individuals is our story regardless of where we were born. We are all part of a larger community of individuals who care for each other and honor history.
During this time of year my family focuses on the meaning of Christmas and the food we have to share with those we love. I have wondered about meals cooked and served on Christmas Day in the late 1700s and early 1800s. To obtain this information one needs to search through journals and diaries. There is now such a thing as a “culinary historian”. What I know to be true is that a menu would reflect traditional foods of the celebrants’ original culture. Families would cook with the best items available to them. That remains true to us today as we experience a variety of Christmas menus. People cook what they know. I have asked a few cooks about what they know from their family histories and here are some excerpts that you may enjoy:
“If one was lucky enough to be near water, crabs, rockfish, and oysters were on the menu. Farmers who had pigs, game, lamb, cows, chickens and turkeys would have decisions to make as to which to include for a festive meal. What was grown and cellared was cooked: potatoes, hard squashes, turnips, beets, onions and apples. The nuts would be chestnuts, pecans and walnuts. Mince pies and biscuits with jelly may be served at dessert. For beverages water, sweet cider and wine.”
From my home and heart to yours, I thank you for supporting HFR, Inc. and wish you all a tasty, loving, warm and healthy Christmas!
President, HFR, Inc.