Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Separated by 182 years, John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, and I share a birthday. He was born in 1774. I just realized this today.

I finished a quick read through Slow Food - A case for taste by Carlo Petrini. (Ha! I even have to read fast!) As I understand it, his vision of the Slow Food movement is
-not to protest fast food but to teach how slow food is better
to educate consumers, beginning with children
-to preserve biodiversity and unique regional foods and flavors
-to provide economic support for local, small food producers

I started thinking about regional flavors in the North Central Ohio region. Among the Native Americans who lived here were the Iriquois, the Chippewa (or Ojibway), Wyandot, Miami, Delaware, Seneca, Ottawa, Hurons. I haven't seen much written about their cuisine, but imagine that wild game played a large part in it. But even they weren't native to this area, they moved west from New York about 200 years prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims. The Adena and Hopewell (mound-building) Indians lived here long before, their primary foods were maize, squash, and beans.

Moving forward in history, this region was settled during the expansion into the Northwest Territories, in the early through mid-1800's, primarily by German farmers - my own family history shows a number of names like Klopfenstein, Ritter, Klahn, Weber, Horning, Kocheiser, and so on.
So what is more German than apples and pork? But then, pondering even more, I realized that this area was once the haunt of Johnny Appleseed - in fact, our football conference here is the Johnny Appleseed conference, and we have the Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center just a few miles away. So I googled Johnny Appleseed and came up with his birth date - couldn't believe it was the same as mine!

And just to complete the circle, I find that Michael Pollan's book "The Botany of Desire" has a Johnny Appleseed reference, and Michael Pollan is on the advisory board of the Slow Food USA organization.

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