It was Christmas when we awoke. Breakfast was light–acorn pancakes, jam, and sassafras tea. Bando went for a walk. I lit the fire in the fireplace and spent the morning creating a feast from the wilderness.
Bando rinsed Dad’s soup bowl in the snow, and with great ceremony and elegance–he could really be elegant when the occasion arose–poured him a turtle shell of sassafras tea. Quoting a passage from one of Dickens’s food-eating scenes, he carved the blackened steak. It was pink and juicy inside. Cooked to perfection. We were all proud of it. Dad had to finish his tea before he could eat. I was short on bowls. Then I filled his shell. A mound of sort of fluffy mashed cattail tubers, mushrooms, and dogtooth violet bulbs, smothered in gravy thickened with acorn powder. Each plate had a pile of soaked and stewed honey locust beans–mixed with hickory nuts. The beans are so hard it took three days to soak them.
It was glorious feast. Everyone was impressed, including me.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
We’re currently reading this Newbery Honor Book for our read aloud time. Did you know that E.P. Dutton (publishers) initially refused to publish Ms. George’s story of a boy who leaves home to live off the land in the Catskill Mountains because they were afraid it would encourage children to run away from home?