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The Sufferings of Circuit Hash

November 23, 1997|CHARLES PERRY

A lot of people include succotash in their Thanksgiving menu, with good reason--it was probably served at the first Thanksgiving. The Native American recipe was beans cooked with bexar meat; corn kernels were added toward the end. New Englanders have replaced the bear with salt pork, but many still use their local cranberry beans rather than limas, which have become the succotash bean everywhere else. New England makes two kinds of succotash: a chowder-like soup with cream and one with added vegetables and meats like a boiled dinner.

Southerners gladly adopted succotash--and then developed their own versions, which nearly always include tomatoes. Often okra joins or even replaces the lima or butter beans. Some Southern recipes, like some New England recipes, call for boiling the corn cobs from which the kernels have been scraped along with the beans for a while, which gives a slightly different flavor. "What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking" (1881), the first cookbook written by an African American, gives a Southern succotash recipe that has charmingly Southernized the name to "circuit hash."

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