Tastes and Tales of Massachusetts

October 19, 2008 · 8 comments · Print This Post

in Cookbook Reviews, Nostalgia, Reviews

With all of the buzz circulating lately around the importance of eating local I wondered if perhaps a little emphasis might also be spared for the preservation of local recipes? So many of us, myself included, are cookbook addicts, rushing out to pick up the next shiny new title from Ina Garten or Nigella Lawson at the drop of a hat. And if you’re like me you flip through the book once or twice, ogle the highly stylized pictures, make one elaborate recipe and promptly place it on a shelf only to forget about it for two years.

My grandmother didn’t have four dozen cookbooks in her kitchen. She had around four. They consisted of The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, Betty Crocker’s Cookie Book, and the Marjorie Standish titles: Cooking Down East, and Keep Cooking the Maine Way.

Tastes and TalesIt was these last two titles that instantly came to mind when I first received P. Ann Pieroway’s two cookbooks. Pieroway’s books, Taste and Tales of Massachusetts and A Taste of Cranberries and Some Tales too both offer colorful collections of local Massachusetts recipes and history.

In Taste and Tales of Massachusetts you’ll find recipes for familiar New England fare such as Boiled Dinner, Blueberry Jam, and Boston Brown Bread. If you’ve always wanted to have your very own New England Clambake in your backyard then you’re in luck! Although authenticity isn’t for the faint of heart. This recipe begins with the cook digging a 2′ by 4′ long hole in the sand that’s 1 1/2 feet deep! You’ll also learn why Rockport was a dry town for over a hundred years and get the lowdown on “Boston Cream Pie.” Is it a pie? Is it a cake? Pieroway will set the record straight.

Taste of CranberriesWhile the cranberry harvesting season is coming to a close, the holiday season is just starting to whirl into gear. Soon enough cranberry sauce will be on the table and perhaps you’ll even string some ruby red berries on your Christmas Tree, but what else can you do with cranberries? Well how does a Cranberry Mojito sound to you? Or how about mixing it up a bit and dipping some of those game day chips into a bowl of Cranberry Salsa?  I’m even beginning to wonder if the holidays might not be complete without a batch of “Merry Merry Meatballs” which appear to be a traditional meatball recipe with the additions of cranberries, brown sugar, chili sauce, and lemon.

Local cookbooks, such as those that author P. Ann Pieroway has produced, are really the staples of our own personal and regional culinary history. They evoke a simpler more relaxed time, and let’s face it, we could all use a little more of that mentality these days. Pieroway is currently hard at work on her third title in this Massachusetts based series: Taste and Tales of Cape Cod and the Islands.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anita October 19, 2008 at 12:04 pm

My Goodness. I have the same cookbooks your grandmother used. My sister gave them to me when I got married 30 years ago! Marjorie’s books are my “go to” books for sure. My daughter who recently has left the nest asked for her own set of “Marjorie cookbooks”. We are doing are part in preserving local recpies here in Central Maine.


2 EB October 19, 2008 at 1:29 pm

I think you’re absolutely right. It is so important to save these treasures, and pass them down. I think I have over 100 cookbooks at this point… my grandmother had two. Two books and a recipe box. Her recipes aren’t local (to me anyways) but adapting her southern favorites to my local produce/meats has been something I’ve been enjoying doing for awhile. It’s my way of eating local and keeping family traditions alive.


3 Megan October 19, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Very enjoyable post! Thanks!


4 zestycook October 19, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Erin… awesome post! I totally agree with the context of your message. Regardless of the product… enjoy it, treasure it and do what you can to keep it local.

very impressive



5 Elle October 20, 2008 at 1:39 pm

I love good old local cookbooks, especially with the authentic old recipes. Though I don’t want to dig a huge hole to have a clambake, I like knowing how to do it if the urge strikes.


6 Cze-Johnson Carrie October 20, 2008 at 8:35 pm

On occasion I have been known to give local cookbooks to friends that visit me… yet I have none. sad, no?

I DO have a few copies of some old Polish family recipes… but like any good family recipe, the best way to make them is when you’ve been taught how by someone else. I’m still interested in learning to make a few more dishes from all three of my ethic lineages (Polish, Irish, and Hungarian).. simply because it’s a piece of my culture I want my kids to share.

Erin.. do you have any signature familiy dishes that you make or would like to learn to make? I seem to recall Chris having the osso buco, no? what would be your top ones?


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