PORTLAND, Maine — Talk about lousy timing. Just as Maine was about to celebrate its 200th birthday on March 15th, the coronavirus forced people to stay home and schools and businesses to shut down. The energy went out of the bicentennial celebration like air out of a balloon.
One of the few bicentennial projects that didn’t get postponed to next year is the “Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook,” a volume of more than two hundred recipes sent in by people from all over the state. If you want to make anything from Acadian Chicken Stew to Yia-Yia’s Teganides Greek Fried Dough, this is the book for you.
But it’s not just a guide to how to prepare dishes and meals. As editors Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz write in their opening sentence, “This is a book about people.”
Consider a recipe for Etta’s Hot Dog Relish. It sounds tasty, with the usual ingredients of onions, cabbage, green tomatoes, etc. But the accompanying story brings it alive. “Etta Pratt McIntire was a wonderful cook!...She grew up in Wilton, went to York to teach, met Claude McIntire at a Grange play, and married him. She made this relish for her family (six children) and later for all her sixteen grandchildren. Etta was my grandmother and she inspired me to become a teacher, too.”
In its own way this book will help strengthen Maine communities. Two dollars from every volume sold will be donated to organizations that fight hunger in the state. “Our hope is that you will take the recipes in this book and make them your own,” Hathaway and Schatz write. “Adapt them to your tastes, make notes in the margins, and, above all, share them with people you love.”