It is day 9 of the resistance. The enemy has taken over the White House, Congress, most State Governorships, and soon the Supreme Court. As of this writing there have already been 400 incidents of racist, homophobic, and misogynist violence committed by Trump supporters in this country. Our future is eclipsed with a bitter desolation. The white supremacist next door wants his country back—specifically, back from you and me. We must resist him, at all costs.
But we can’t accomplish this on empty stomachs. Our long game must be supplemented by a day-to-day conscientiousness for the basics. You can’t fight if you don’t eat. You can’t protect your local community if they aren’t fed. It is cathartic, maybe even arousing, to imagine ourselves fighting neo-nazis in the street—but an army marches on its stomach. Preservation and care, of the self and of those in your community, is the most essential facet of resistance.
This Dutch corn hash is everything that milquetoast neoliberal cowardice in the face of white nationalism sold as discourse isn’t; nutritious, delicious, fun to make, and still shared centuries after its heyday. If anyone’s reading Kurt Eichenwald a hundred years from now, you have my advanced consent to bring me back to life in some hellish computer simulation and force me to read 20 hours of West Wing mpreg.
Dutch Corn Hash
1 can of corn
1 can of potatoes
1 onion, minced,
5 stripes of bacon, diced
salt, pepper, paprika, parsley to taste
This is a traditional offering of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. “Pennsylvania Dutch” is the name given to the German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania from the late 17th century to the late 18th century (“Deutsche” being the German word for German). A lot of what we consider old school, tri-fold-and-crossing-the-delaware American food comes from the Pennyslvania Dutch palate.
This particular itself comes from a 1935 book, Pennsylvania Dutch Cookery, which I found in a box of abandoned books on an Oakland curbside. The descriptions for each dish are exasperatingly short; this was a culture and time where, you know, certain people in the household were expected to do all the cooking, like forever, and so a lot of the minutiae of cooking is just expected to be known, to have been gleaned from long, tedious days of tending house under a mother’s tutelage.
Most of the recipes involving corn that I’ve found in this book specifically mention “shaker dried corn”, where fresh corn is simmered for 5 hours (or soaked in lukewarm water for 12 hours) and then mixed with cream, flour, and salt.
And you see: this is why I’m so transfixed on food-as-historical-politic. We hear a lot about the wealthy landowners who revolted against a wealthier landowner to bring the Union into being; meanwhile, their wives are hunkered over iron pots, boiling down corn, which already comes with its own stick to eat it from, down to a soggy mush.
I decided to go with canned corn because it’s easier, less expensive, and because I want you to to have some quick go-to dishes for when you’ve got a lot of meetings and protests to go to, and saddling yourself or others with hours of busy work is antithetical to practical revolution. Except for, you know, mission statements, manifestos, consensus building, action plans, scheduling workshops and meal runs—
Notable in this cookbook is the explicit instruction to dice bacon up before you cook it, whether you’re frying or stewing it. Modern cooking wisdom would say to cook it first, then break it down, because it’s brittleness helps break it down, but cutting the bacon before you cook it, as difficult as it may be, ensures a certain uniformity in the finished product. You’ll have a better time if you, unlike me, use bacon ends or back bacon instead of this wiry Oscar Mayer shit.
Fry the bacon. Once it’s brown, add in the minced onions. When the onions are done, add in the corn. Et cetera. Now, I love myself a “Germans and their love of structure” as much as the next girl, but if you try to throw everything in at once, you’re gonna have too much water in your frying pan, and you’ll be braising where you ought to be sauteeing.
Sometimes this is unavoidable if you’re using canned tomatoes. Just soak it up with paper towel and then compost it right away and if anyone asks you about it say “oh, a strange fountain of tomato juice just sprung up from the sink, it’s no biggie, I fixed it, we definitely do not need another house meeting about making sure the cast-iron doesn’t get rusty again.”
Cook and stir for about twenty minutes, making sure it doesn’t stick. It’ll be wet, but not have the sheen you might be used to with other stir-fries or what have you, since we only used the fat that came with the bacon (and/or the seasoning of a cast-iron). You’ll probably hear more whistling and hissing than outright sizzling, since the corn and tomatoes need to shirk their moisture like liberal white Americans need to shirk their faith in the police.
Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. I like mine particularly salty.
I assure you, the final product is very dry; when I offered some to my roommate who just woke up, she gave me a plate she was already using. I sprinkled some parsley on top to make it fancy. It almost looks like tex-mex. Come on down to Cowboy Johan’s! We’re real schnitzel-kickers!
It’s very light but robust—the sweetness of the corn, the tang of the tomato, the smoky umami of the bacon, the however-you-describe-the-flavor-of-onion. It’s calorically and nutritionally substantial without sitting heavy in your gut. A gas mask or wet bandana is a pisspoor two-way-door; it might keep the tear gas out but it won’t keep your cheeseburger and milkshake in. Eat light, eat often. You can always get a footlong sub after you’ve been bailed out.
This meal cost me between about $3 in ingredients (I buy onions and bacon in bulk; the most expensive thing was the shaker of parsley, .99 cents). For the next few months, the recipes I put up will aim to be low-cost, high-yield. Consider donating the money you save on budget cooking towards your local food bank, your community food drive, or other services that provide food for marginalized people around you. Or! If you’re poor, and a friend of yours offers to buy you groceries or bring you some food, and you’re sick to death of pasta and tupperwares of lentils, consider this. Just, really meditate on it. Contemplate the plight of the German-American, who came to America hoping for a better life than endless imperial warfare and religious sectarian grudges, fought for independence and later, in droves against slavery in the Civil War, gave us the hot dog, and then faced decades of World War-era xenophobia until they were assimilated into the white American monolith—and for many, this is the happy ending.
In the coming years, many of us will be given that chance—not to share in the wealth of the white nationalist regime, but to at least be on the other side of the firing squad from our neighbors, friends, and families, to watch and maybe even have to praise the shooters. It might not come in the form of an official letter; we in the LGBT community will undoubtedly be beset by long, boring speeches on how it’s really PoC who are the real homophobes, and if we want a world safe to love who we wish, we need to step aside.
You and I must say to this what Peter Thiel would not. We must have the courage to say: