By Mary Mihaly
Every story is more meaningful when we’re given its context, and Timeless Bounty delivers. Food and wine are forever siblings, and author Thomas Pellechia helps us to realize the depth of their relationship – and why learn about one without the other? After all, they came up together.
Timeless Bounty tells the whole story, from the Lamoka hunter-gatherer tribe to today’s $4.5 billion agricultural industry. Along the way we learn about early farm practices and gristmills, followed in short order by distilleries. In 1801, whiskey sold for the grand sum of 25 cents a gallon – who wouldn’t choose liquor production over flour?
All sorts of food- and drink-related industries sprung up in a relatively few years: whiskey needed barrels for storage, and New York’s rich forests generated a healthy cooperage movement. Salt, cider, meats, flour, vinegar and maple syrup likewise were transported and stored in barrels. The first cheese factory opened near Syracuse in 1851; by 1864 there were 350. Growth bred more growth.
Grapes grew wild throughout the region, and commercial vineyards – first for table grapes, then wine grapes – appeared in the 19th century. By 1880, 16 wineries surrounded Keuka Lake. More recently, Dr. Konstantin Frank’s research with vinifera grapevines in the region was legendary.
Pellechia’s sidebars throughout the book are a bonus. Many include recipes using local goods, such as homemade sauerkraut, chèvre spread, homemade wine or, from the recipe index, “Three Sisters Stew” with butternut squash and corn.
Other sidebars are information-enhancers. One explains why buckwheat is prolific here – who knew it was a relative of rhubarb? Another schools us in wild edible ferns.
Timeless Bounty is a bounty of Finger Lakes knowledge and lore. If you’re traveling there, this is your go-to introduction to the region.