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Food Traditions

Over time, every culture has developed their own way of cooking and sense of taste.

greek food traditions

Helen Pervanas (right) and
her mother Chrysanthe Nagios
preserve their Greek heritage
through the cooking of
traditional foods.

Traditional foods often rely on fresh ingredients raised in and gathered from the local area. In rural areas, cooking methods are usually simple and recipes can easily adapt from feeding a family to feeding a large group at a community gathering, harvest celebration, or wedding.

People who are good traditional cooks usually have a deep understanding of the environment, nutrition, and how to make the most out of a few ingredients.

Learning about traditional foods can connect you to this knowledge and reward your taste buds as well!

Yankee Food Traditions

Much of New Hampshire is rural and winters are long. Early settlers spent much of their time outdoors and "good old-fashioned Yankee cooking" comes out of this closeness with nature. In this style of cooking, basic ingredients are combined to create hearty meals like chowders, stews, boiled dinners, pot roasts, and pot pies. Special favorites are maple sticky buns and red flannel hash. Baked beans cooked with salt pork and maple syrup are popular for community gatherings.

becky parker

Becky Parker, from
Randolph, shows off
a pie crust.
Her recipes are
versatile enough to
feed her family, as
well as hungry hikers
who drop by the
Appalachian Mountain
Club Visitor's Center
in Pinkham Notch.

Recipes for Yankee cooking are straight forward, spices are minimal, and quantities are large. This style of cooking translates very well from feeding a family to feeding people at inns and hotels or to providing large meals for a hundred or more hungry hikers at an Appalachian Mountain hut.

The state's agricultural products – beef, milk, maple syrup, berries, apples, pumpkins, corn and vegetables – are put to good use. A short growing season prompts many gardeners to can and preserve foods-what is sometimes called "putting food up." At agricultural fairs throughout the state, the makers of jams, jellies, pickles and baked goods compete for prizes. Home baked goods – doughnuts, pies, cakes, and puddings – are very popular in New Hampshire especially in the winter. In the last ten years, baking, caning and preserving has become a cottage industry for many small farmers. Locally made baked goods, jams, jellies, mustards, pancake mixes, smoked cheeses and sausages are available at many New Hampshire farm stands, farmers' markets, and specialty gift shops. They are always delicious and buying them helps to support our local economy.

Hunting season brings in wild game such as deer, bear, and moose. Some Yankee cooks are as skilled at dressing out a moose as they are at baking pies. Family held recipes for preparing wild game are treasured. New Hampshire has an abundance of fresh water lakes and rivers so trout, smelt and fresh water salmon are available during fishing season. The 18-mile coastline affords access to seafood in the form of lobsters, crabs, and clams. Local restaurants along the seacoast specialize in lobster sandwiches and good old fashioned Yankee clam chowder.

vegetables and jellies

Fresh produce and homemade jams
for sale at a farm stand in Milan, NH.

For more information on how to support agriculture in New Hampshire, visit these websites:

Photo credit: Gary Samson

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
19 Pillsbury Street - 1st Floor, Concord, NH 03301