Hasty pudding is a slow-cooked concoction of corn meal, milk, eggs, molasses and spices. It’s a perfect dish for the cold weather, but it also has rich historical roots in our region. For example, Billerica’s Yankee Doodle Homecoming celebration was created to honor Thomas Ditson, a Revolutionary War hero who was tarred and feathered by the British when he tried to buy a musket in March 1775. Legend has it that the redcoats put him on display and sang the following to mock Ditson:
Yankee Doodle came to town
For to buy a firelock
We will tar and feather him
And so we will John Hancock.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Yankee Doodle dandy
Mind the music and the step
And with the girls be handy!
But don’t forget this verse:
Father and I went down to camp
Along with Captain Gooding
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.
The dessert has been immortalized in other ways, including by Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club, which began in 1795. The group’s constitution demanded that two student members bring a pot of the stuff to Saturday meetings as a reprieve from college fare. The club evolved into a theater company that continues on today.
And that’s not all. A three-canto mock-heroic poem titled “The Hasty Pudding” was penned by Joel Barlow and published in 1796 in New York Magazine. Here’s a small portion:
My father loved thee through his length of days;
For thee his fields were shaded o’er with maize;
From thee what health, what vigor he possessed,
Ten sturdy freemen from his loins attest;
Thy constellation ruled my natal morn,
And all my bones were made of Indian corn.
Delicious grain! whatever form it take,
To roast or boil, to smother or to bake,
In every dish ‘tis welcome still to me,
But most, my Hasty Pudding, most in thee.
It’s a simple dish with a humorous heritage. Stories and flavor: a great combination for your holiday table.