Zucchini Fritters and Labskaus 

  • Labskaus. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOs

  • SUBMITTED PHOTO Labskaus.

For the Recorder
Published: 6/25/2020 9:59:31 AM

In these stressful, strange times, cooking is for me a place of creativity and relaxation. I have always liked to cook. When my husband, Jim, and I were newlyweds, he said to me, “If I could have married either a good cook or a good housekeeper, I’m glad you’re a good cook.” Good man, he.

When I was a professor of Spanish at UMass, I wrote academic articles on food and taught advanced courses such as “Food: Power, Identity, Memory,” but I waited to do that until I had gotten tenure in 1974. As a woman in a predominantly male department, I would have torpedoed my career had I done so any earlier. Times have, thank God, changed.

There are many articles on food in the newspapers during this pandemic, with reduced freedom of movement and trips to the grocery stores only when necessary. As compared to New York City, we are fortunate to live in an area where getting outside is not problematic and where we have access to fresh produce and other foods.

To many people, food is a springboard to memory. I want to share two uncomplicated and delicious recipes that trigger wonderful memories for me.

Zucchini Fritters

2 medium zucchini, grated coarsely

½ cup flour

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients. Heat two tablespoons each oil and butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat; fry spoonful of batter until golden on both sides. Make fritters about 3 inches across; good hot or at room temperature.

I got the recipe years ago from my best college friend, Nonie Martin. Her family has a beautiful home on a lake in the Poconos and had invited us to come for a summer weekend. Her father had a huge vegetable garden, and I will never forget the outdoor supper she fed us: roast chicken, sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob and the zucchini fritters. All but the chicken came from the garden.

Labskaus

3-4 pounds mealy potatoes, peeled and chunked

1 large onion, chopped

1 can corned beef, cubed

½ cup water

½ stick butter

1 small beef bouillon cube

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 cup chopped tomatoes 

Boil potatoes in unsalted water; drain and mash coarsely.Meanwhile, over medium heat, steam onion in water in a covered saucepan until tender. Add balance of ingredients; simmer for ½ hour. Add potatoes and stir well. Check for seasoning. Heat thoroughly. Serve with a fried egg on top and a dill pickle on the side.

This is essentially a mashed potato-corned beef hash, a seaman’s dish from the North Atlantic which used what sailing ships had in their galleys: corned beef, onions and potatoes. The recipe comes from Hamburg, where I was born, a port with a long nautical history. The consistency of Labskaus made it easy to bring to a helmsman on a pitching deck. We used to take it along on our own boat when sailing along the coast of Maine.

Nina M. Scott is a retired professor of Spanish from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she taught for 34 years. She and her husband, Jim, have lived in Amherst since 1968. Writing is one of her great joys.


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