Everything and the Kitchen Shrink: Small states lead in vice presidential cuisine
Now that presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have made their vice presidental picks, inquiring culinary minds want to know – what do Sen. Joe Biden from Delaware and Gov. Sarah Palin from Alaska like to eat?
Biden loves Italian food so much that, if elected president, he confesses he would hire an Italian White House chef so he could indulge in his favorite foods. Biden is also known for his killer culinary skills – especially his famous pasta dishes.
The traditional tastes of Delaware are a melting pot of the cuisines of various people who settled the state when it was originally formed. They came from Britain, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, bringing their flavor preferences with them. A fish stew called “Muddle,” cooked in a Dutch oven, was a popular seafood dish. After the broiler chicken industry heated-up, broiled chicken had become a staple along with sour-milk biscuits and cheesy corn pudding. No surprise, the blue hen chicken is now the state bird.
Pescivores enjoy the Delaware diet – light on meat, heavy on fish and seafood. Crabbing has been a long-standing sport along the state’s beaches as folks try to catch the famous blue crab by seducing it with chicken’s neck bait. This local delicacy is steamed or enjoyed as crab cakes, hot crab dip, crab bisque, bagels with crab spread or crab paella, while some popular fish dishes are grilled walleye and Cape Cod-style striped bass.
Now let’s head north to Palin’s Alaska. This outdoorsy governor is a true carnivore who follows the dietary philosophy of her parents exhibited on their bumper sticker: “Vegetarian: Indian word for ‘bad hunter.’”
Palin hunts her own moose meat and chows down on her fave – a hearty moose stew, while moose burgers are her runner-up choice.
Alaska is a state fertile with wild berries including blueberries, high bush cranberries, salmonberries (orange-hued raspberries), mossberries and watermelon berries, which can be eaten fresh or preserved as jams and jellies.
The state is also famous for its cold water seafood and fish especially the Alaskan king crab (larger than the Delaware blue), the Copper River salmon and the Alaskan king salmon frequently served smoked, as jerky or made into a sweet Indian salmon candy.
Hunters bag other wild game animals like caribou, elk, bear and reindeer, the latter a transplant from Siberia to supplement the dwindling whale food supply.
Here are two recipes representative of both states – Alaskan Moose Stew and Delaware Crab Cakes. They both get my vote!
Alaskan Moose Stew
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 pounds of moose, deer or venison, cubed
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 4 carrots, cut in coins
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 large potatoes, peeled, cubed
- 10 ounces of frozen corn
- 10 ounces of frozen green beans
- 2 cups of red wine
- 10 ounces of beef broth
- 2 16-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of basil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
In a stockpot, heat the oil on medium and braise the meat. Reduce heat and add the onions, garlic, celery and spices, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, simmering until tender. Add more wine or broth if desired. Serve with polenta or dumplings.
Delaware Crab Cakes
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 pound of jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
- 1/2 small red pepper, diced
- 1/2 small yellow pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 egg
- 1 ounce of brown mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup of crushed crackers (multi-grain or saltines)
- 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of Worchestire sauce
- 1/4 cup of fresh coriander, chopped
In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients (except the oil), and chill for 30 minutes. Using an ice cream scoop, make equal portions and form into patties. Place cracker crumbs on a wax-papered cookie sheet and coat the patties.
In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium. Saute the patties until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with chili mayo.
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