cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Land of Milk and Honey

Braided Honey Bread with a little ImmigrationMilk and Honey. A phrase of goodness, sweetness, abundance, hope--is there anything you wouldn't lick with milk and honey on it? Don't answer that. A land of milk and honey is a land of opportunity. Thinking of the ingredients one is pulled to the thought of immigration, well at least I was, though inversely. Throughout Americas golden age of immigration (17th century through the 1930's) the term has held repertoire for lady liberty's shores, and has enticed millions, like bees to a daisy, to emigrate with dreams of soaking their bread crumbs in the flowing sticky-sweet Venetian streets. Consequently, rarely was there ever much honey, hell milk would make for quite nice eh. What is a history of the United States if not a study of immigration? Such an invitation as well may be extended to all of the Americas for that matter. Our lands are made of milk and honey, figuratively speaking, but what a nice pair of ingredients, wouldn't you agree. On y va.

Can you tell that i'm back in school yet? Perhaps taking a history class on immigration? Just wait I'm in a Mexico history class too, we'll have some aroz com leite coming up. Hehe. Don't worry though, I will not be making Texas Toast in honor of my course on US westward expansion. I draw the line of dorkiness only just past the dignity level. Any and all information and historical facts mentioned will not be cited, for they will derive from lectures attended and from what I somehow manage to keep in my head. So citation of information here will go to Dr. Irish, Dr. Montezuma, and Dr. West.

When we look at the history of immigration to the United States the primary thought is ah the British! But collectively very few Brits ever made it to the shores of New World. American immigration must be analyzed in sections distinct from one another: first the colonizing wave which includes Europeans and Africans through the slave trade. The second is immigration following independence up until the early twentieth century. And then finally the mid to later twentieth century.

Ok ok, yes the first US colony was founded by the British, Jamestown 1607, but they were not the first ones here. I know I need not mention the cod to you, but don't forget that the Spanish and the French were already past the Appalachian mountains by this point. Almost a century prior the Spanish were in Florida, crawling along the coast of California, and settling the American South West. The French were already masters of the Great Lakes, sailing down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and making their way into the interior via route of the Indian fur trade. Spaniards and French: Americas first immigrants. Now who doesn't like Cajun gumbo and Spanish Florida? oh yes we owe much to our first immigrants.

Focusing on the European colonists stuck between the mountains and the sea during the colonial era, we see a makeup of stationary farming Germans settling in Pennsylvania, over 100,000 Scotch-Irish (Scottish, not Irish at all) taking on that bandit "frontiersman" role of hills people, Scottish Highlanders settling in South Carolina and Jersey, the Irish coming in as indentured servants (slave laborers), the Dutch in New Amsterdam, what we call New York, French Huguenots, Spanish Sephardic and Dutch Jews from Brazil (yeah are you confused?) and then of course a few of those Englishmen cowering in the corner of a minority complex. These are the first people (the first people after the murdered native population) that peopled this country, that created this country. A nation of immigrants drawn to the milk and honey who tried to make bread of it.

There is a bread recipe coming, I promise. (the above photo is my entry for this months Click The Photo Contest themed Crust)

Following the revolution, the vast majority of immigrants were, well the Irish. The years 1820 through 1920 have been coined the century of immigration in which America received 4.5 million immigrants comprised mainly of, again the Irish, but also Germans, Scandinavians, and later the Italians. Though the great famine held significant weight during this century, political and religious sanctions against Catholics also helped lead to the great depopulation of Ireland. By the late 19th century the Irish made up at least 15% of the population in each of the fifty largest cities. So truly why are we to say British North America when in fact it should be Irish North America? And why am I not making an Irish soda bread then? Consequently the Irish are not known for cuisine, though while in Galway I did chance upon a remarkable cabbage soup.

The major wave of immigration ends in the 1930's. Why? Well if you were in history class with me you would hear IMMIGRATION ACT of 1924 that's why, which the yell of is a startling deja vu from a few years past. The other great waves of immigration consist of immigrants from Asia and Latin America. But we'll talk about them at another time. Though they came as well for milk and honey, so, if we owe our land, our people, our who we are to milk and honey, we should use it more often. If there is an American cuisine, it should be milk and honey. Not the Italian, Greek, Chinese, Mexican, pizza, hotdog what-have-you that makes up what we eat in this country as "american," but milk and honey, a food stuff that by definition must have preceded the immigrant.

Honey & Milk Almond Challah style bread:
(Yes I did make a yeast bread--and braided it too. A Salty Cod first) This bread started from a recipe for Challah, a Jewish sweet braided bread, but like everything I do i feel i am so much better and must change things, and bake it Hawaiian style in a skillet.

Ingredients: 4.5 cups four ~ 2 eggs ~ 4 tbsps olive oil ~ .5 tbsp yeast ~ 1 tsp salt ~ 5 tbsp sugar ~ tsp cinnamon ~ 1 cup warm milk ~ 2 tbsps honey ~ almond extract

method: 1) in a bowl (with your arm) whisk one cup of the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon 2) add milk, 2 eggs, olive oil, and 2 honey. 3) mix, and then slowly add all of the rest of the flour, then obviously it will be too thick to stir and you will need to kneed with your hands. 4) kneed dough 4 minutes, roll in olive oil then place in bowl, cover, and wait 2 hours. 5) cut dough into three equal pieces and roll each out like a robe. 6) cross them at the middle, and then braid them like hair, keep them stretched. 7) wrap it around the inside of a heavy black skillet pan and pinch tight together the ends, then cover and let rise 1/2 hour. 8) squish the whole thing down very hard with a pan or something, then beat an egg mixed with honey and olive oil and completely wash the whole thing 9) bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes, 15 minutes in wash with a mixture of hot honey and almond extract. 10) remove from oven, and sprinkle with almond slices, well i would have if i had some.

Honey butter spread: whip butter, some honey, and a little powdered sugar. But shhh! don't tell anyone that honey butter is just butter and honey, you will lose the goddess aura.

This clearly has nothing to do with the fact that I am currently taking a history course on Immigration to America at my University. Nahhh. I wanted an excuse to make some bread, we shall attribute it for what it is; hey whatever inspires right? America the melting pot has been debunked. Instead we see America as a salad, but not a tossed salad. That phrase has been ruined for me (thanks editor). But a salad in which there are eggs, tomatoes, pears, green beans, and even tuna all making each other taste better. Somewhere in that salad is a vinaigrette, hopefully with a little milk and honey.

Bake a braided bread to remember that we're all a bunch of braided strands. There are so many differences here in these American countries, but that's what makes us the same. That we are different.


Cannelle Et Vanille said...

you got me at milk and honey but add a little history yo it and i'm in awe... beautiful post. really.

Rachel said...

Drooooool. I miss good bread. And that looks insanely good right now. Cool post about immigration, too! Gostei :)

Anonymous said...

yumm mallerd!

i didnt read any of it, but the pictures look so good!
im really hungry now, and i love honey. =]

im expecting some at christmas!

Núria said...

That bread crust looks perfect! I'm thinking about baking my own soon. Have you seen a link in my blog about bread (bloggers I'd had a coffee with) Take a look... there's lots of different breads there... one with figs!!!!

Great post as always Mallory :D Inmigration is the big thing here now!

Melissa said...

Wow this looks amazing. Milk and honey on bread. YUM!!! I found a new travel site, I think you will like it.


Helene said...

Beautiful Challah!
Here is one to make you smile: this little Frenchie married an Irish American who went to England to get a Masters on architectural Roman Britain 15 years before she went to America to research her Master's thesis on Colonial America and the Society For The Propagation of the Gospel (kind of like what the Jesuits were doing up North with Natives American but after 1901 in the South with Protestants)....Immigration and its actuality will always be part of our life, whether I live here in the US or for him if we go back to France.
You are right, food and food cultures define us as individual and bring us together as a collective.
Great work Mallory!

Helene said...

One book you might enjoy:
"A Baker's Odyssey" by Greg Patent, the subtitle is "time honored recipes from America's rich immigrant heritage"...It is a goldmine (no pun intended)

Christy said...

Wow...some deep stuff there. Too strenuous an effort on my overworked, under-slept brain.

But really, wow. Immigrant culture imposes so much on a country's heritage. Being an Indonesian-Chinese trying to get my permanent residency in Australia, I like to think that I'm part of the action. That's another one of my secret hobbies. I collect passports of different countries in my spare time.

But anyway, I love your first photo!! Your milk and honey bread makes me drool so bad!

Kelly Cândido said...

Hi Mallory..i see your comment at the Blog´s food. I´m from Brazil, and i want to know about your job like writer.
I will go live in FRance, and need to make some friends there...
Can you talk whit me?
See you..

Kelly Cândido said...

my e-mail dress is

a Hug from Brazil!!

Anonymous said...

A very interesting post Mallory!
After all, human kind, food and history, go hand in hand!
Your bread is gourgeous!

Alexa said...

This bread is so click worthy! It looks beautiful.

PG said...

Came here through the crust contest after seeing your wonderful entry and was even more impressed by this post i read. Wonderful!

Moira - Tertúlia de Sabores said...

Congratulations !
Beautiful photos.
Loved the post, the sweet bread and the lesson of history.
My grand father went to Boston in 1920, so at least you had one portuguese immigrant there ;))some years late moved to Brazil.
I will try your recipe one of this days.

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Unknown said...

The honey is really great for the skin, i usually use it in my face, is really wonderful. After my mask i feel my face smooth and clean. And my boyfriend always notice the difference, he simply love it. I feel more comfortable with my self and he is always with too much energy because he usually buy viagra

netde said...


sophie said...

Milk- it just makes my mouth water! Not so much with honey. But milk and bread, whew! What can I say! Perfect!
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