Full Intermission (Winter 2013)

Mussels Steamed in White Wine – An All-American Food Suggestion in the Manner of Charles Ives

Charles Ives

Follow these simple directions:

1. Place mussels in kettle and add white wine, scallions, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, pressed garlic, salt, and pepper.

2. Cover and bring to low boil, shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute mussels in the wine.

3. Cook until mussels have opened. (Discard any unopened mussels.)


While enjoying ‘the succulent flavor and nutritional value’ of the mussels, read this short description of early American cuisine:

“[In America] the early settlers survived on the culinary knowledge gained from the Indians. They were quickly introduced to corn, a food completely new to them. Originally a wild grass, corn had apparently been brought north from Mexico to become a versatile staple that grew easily and travelled well.

It was the Indians who showed the Europeans how to carefully plant and tend single seeds, rather than to randomly scatter them. Soon the settlers had learned the basics of their new land: the cultivation and preparation of corn in all its many forms, the slow baking of beans, the harvesting of maple sap for syrup, the picking of cranberries, and the preparation of fish and chowders.

The first immigrants were not fisherman, and until they were taught, they almost starved in a land where the sea and fresh water could provide a lifesaving bounty.”

by Bonnie Becker Cacavas

(from Musical Feasts: Fabulous Dining in the Style of Six of the World’s Great Composers – The American Symphony Orchestra League – Theodore Presser Company, 1985)