Traditional Independence Day Food

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This July 4th, while we are celebrating our forefather’s foresight, let’s also take a stroll down culinary-memory-lane. Today, the 4th is synonymous with cookouts, burgers, slaw and dogs, the originators celebrated with much different fare (turtle soup, anyone?)

A number of early cookbooks, including The American Heritage Cookbook, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, and Miss Corson’s Practical American Cookery among others, provide great insights into the food of the time. Due to the difficult trade relations that led up to the declaration of independence, imports were scarce and native foods were prioritized.  Oysters, crab, trout, salmon, lobster, turkey, corn, green beans were common, with apple cider and ale taking primacy over wine.

Legend has it that Samuel Adams, signer and beer-brewer, along with his wife Abigail, enjoyed the following menu on that historic eve: Green Turtle Soup, New England Poached Salmon with Egg Sauce, and Apple Pandowdy.  While this has been disputed (later findings indicate they were in different states at the time), the menu holds true to form. Blogger Sarah Lohman over at tried out a few of these, including the infamous snapping turtle soup (check it out here: as well as Fresh Apple Pan Dowdy, which is essentially an apple pie (check it out here:

Additionally, George Washington’s expense reports (meticulous in all things) outline his purchases for July 4th, 1776-mutton, veal, beef, cabbage, beets, beans, potatoes and lobster.

For more on traditional independence day food and recipes, click through the links below:

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