On March 15, 1820, Maine became the 23rd state in the United States of America. Let's Celebrate!
Are you a "Down Easter?" I hear that some citizens of Maine like to refer to themselves as such. Having somewhat of an inquisitive mind, I came to wonder why. I can certainly understand a person from Maine calling themselves a Mainer. Hey, I'm always going to be a New Yorker even if I did grow up a Long Islander:) And the only Downeaster I've happened upon is in a song by Billy Joel, another native Long Islander. So, what's going down? Does the nickname have a geographical connection perhaps?
State of Mainers may have sea captains to thank for their nickname.
Originally, sea captains had referred to Maine natives as "Down Easters", which was taken from the days of the sailing ships coming out of Boston going "down Maine", or mostly, "downwind."(source)
Keep in mind, for about 170 years before statehood, Maine was a part of Massachusetts, which gives some insight to the name of the state and its inhabitants.
The name Maine probably means mainland. Early English fishermen used the term The Main to distinguish the mainland from the offshore islands, where they settled. New Englanders often refer to Maine as Down East. They call people who live in Maine Down Easters or Down Easterners. These terms probably come from the location of Maine east of, or downwind from, Boston. Ships from that port sailed down to Maine, and ships from Maine traveled up to Boston. (source)
A Downeast Supper for Company
A Maine down east supper might include an array of dishes. Today, I have assembled a collection of recipes from an assortment of Maine recipe books for your enjoyment. This menu was harvested from The Early American Life Family Celebrations Cookbook published by The Early American Society in 1981.
Have you ever wondered how a native "Down Easter" would serve Lobster to company? Chances are, for entertaining at home, the lobster would be either broiled or the subject of a good ol' fashioned Lobster Bake. The broiled lobster pictured below was harvested from The State of Maine's Best Seafood Recipes published in cooperation with the Maine Dept. of Sea & Shore Fisheries copyright 1945.
|For 4 people split four 2 pound live lobsters. (directions here)|
Prepare a dressing of 1-1/2 cups cracker crumbs or cracker meal, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, moistened with two tablespoons of Worcestershire suace and four tablespoons melted butter. Spread dressing generously in cavity. Cut off four of the small claws from each lobster and press into the dressing. Place on buttered broiler and broil 8-10 minutes on Flesh side, turn and broil 6 to 8 minutes on shell side. Serve with melted butter. One lobster for each person.
Did you know, almost 90 percent of all American lobster are trapped in Maine? As a matter of fact, Lobstermen have a language all their own:
|What do you call a female lobster? .......A hen.|
When is a lobster a chicken? .....When it weighs about one pound.
When is a lobster a pistol? .......When it has no claws.
Why shouldn't a lobster walk into the kitchen? ......It's the first chamber of a lobster trap. (The inner chamber is called the bedroom or parlor.)
Maine has the largest wild blueberry crop in the nation, raising 99 percent of all wild blueberries in the US. It is also the single largest producer of any blueberries (wild or cultivated) in America! That makes the Wild Blueberry the State Berry! of Maine.
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups sifted flour
2-1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
2-1/4 cups blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
Cream butter with 2/3 cup sugar. Beat in egg. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Spread in greased 12 x 8 inch pan. Sprinkle berries on top. Mix 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and cinnamon. Cut butter into this and spread mixture over berries. Bake 55 minutes at 350 degrees.
|Wild blueberries are harvested from late July (Blueberry Month!) to early September in Maine. Harvesting is still mainly by hand rake a close-tined special Blueberry Rake invented by a Downeaster from Sugar Hill; Abijah Tabbutt in 1822 and modified in minor variations since then. The secret is in the wielding of the rake-a special pushing and twisting motion of the wrists designed to tease the ripe berries from their grasp of the vine without crushing. Hand-raking is increasingly being replaced by mechanized harvesting. Although the technology is getting very good, hand-raking will always have its place - due in large part to the hilly and rocky terrain that a lot of wild blueberry patches are found on. (source)|
Next on our menu we have a few recipes for Brown Bread from the All Maine Cooking cookbook A Collection of Treasured Recipes from the Pine Tree State ©1967
Maine celebrated sesquicentennial in 1970 with Maine's Jubilee Cookbook. From the intro:
The history of food and the development of dishes peculiar to the State of Maine is a long and interesting one. It has all developed from the plain, down to earth "Mainer's" interest in filling his belly with whatever was at hand.
From the beginning the native was able to take the bounty of nature, add a little seasoning and common sense and come up with food fit for the Gods. The earliest settlements of this country were started on our coasts and it stands to reason that our ancestors use of the wild foods were the first to be eaten on these shores. Add to this the teaching of our Maine Indians and you find that the origins of some of our dishes and cooking methods go back for centuries. Our cooks have shown a great deal of ingenuity in developing a whole heritage of good eating.
Soaked in Maine history, there is a man by the name of Captain Hanson Gregory, the "Doughnut Innovator"? Legend has it, not only was he from Maine, he is the alleged inventor of the doughnut's hole! Who put the whole in the doughnut you ask? Go see:)
Here's a recipe in rhyme for Donuts from yet another Maine cookbook; Maine Cookery Then and Now published by the Courier-Gazette in 1972.
1. The History of Lobstering
2. Maine Lobster Buying Guide
3. How do you eat a Maine Lobster?
4. Wild Blueberry Recipes
5. Downeast Blueberry Cake
6. Egg Coffee
7. Maine Trivia & Tidbits