by Emily Monaco
Several hundreds of years ago, in 1620, English pilgrims looking for the freedom to practice their religion without persecution landed at Plymouth Rock. Now, nearly four hundred years later, Plymouth still attracts visitors looking for a taste of what our forefathers first saw when they first arrived in America. The town of Plymouth, located just over the bridge from Cape Cod, is home to several historical exhibits and sites to visit, including a replica of the Mayflower in Plymouth harbor. It's a great jumping-off point for your vacation in this historic region.
One of the most memorable school trips of my childhood was a (very long) bus ride up through Massachusetts, where we -- 30-some-odd New York City kids -- got to know about farming: one of the backbones of our nation and a concept entirely unfamiliar to us. We tried our hands at milking a cow, distinguished weeds from carrots in a garden and made our very own lunch... but before we could eat the local, hand-picked produce we had prepared, we tasted some local foods, including something that looked like a plastic red berry and tasted like the white pith of a lemon.
I had tasted a raw cranberry which, believe it or not, is historic as well; it's one of only three fruits native to North America, along with the blueberry and the Concord grape. A free Cranberry World Museum can be found in Plymouth, and it makes for a great place to visit and find out more about cranberries. As for seeing (and tasting!) some cranberries themselves, the best thing to do is to drive through Cape Cod itself. The bogs are easy to access from the main roads, and they're a beautiful sight.
Cranberries are harvested in fall, but even in the spring, the bogs are impressive. Some bogs, like Cape Farm and Cranberry Company in Harwich, even offer tours to visitors and school groups. Don't taste the cranberries raw -- unless you like things sour -- but do bring some home for homemade cranberry sauce. Cranberries or homemade cranberry sauce can be frozen, or you can use the sauce in sweet dishes like this.
Cape Cod Cranberry Quickbread
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup yogurt
1 1/3 cup cranberry sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Stir in dry ingredients alternately with yogurt, starting and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just enough to combine. Fold in cranberry sauce.
Line two cake pans with greased parchment paper. Divide the batter evenly between them. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack. This loaf is delicious with butter or cream cheese, or just eaten plain!
Emily Monaco is native New Yorker, living and writing in Paris since 2007. She loves discovering new places and, of course, their local cuisines! Read about her adventures in food and travel at tomatokumato.com or follow her on Twitter at @emiglia