My Saturday foray into the commercial belly of the Christmas beast ended up being a major disappointment. Redemption arrived soon after, however. Sunday saw my wife and me venturing north, along Maine’s section of U.S. Route 1. With the tourists gone and apparently, many of the area’s residents elsewhere, we had downtown Bath virtually to ourselves. A trip to Reny’s allowed us to run into a longtime friend, as well as seeing us stocking up on some needed supplies We then headed out, down the midcoast corridor, towards Waldoboro.
Maine photographer and photojournalist, Cindy McIntyre (who I mentioned elsewhere), was hosting an open studio in her home. Unpacking many of her photos and prints, McIntyre set up an interesting and festive display in her Waldoboro studio. It was interesting to talk shop with a fellow author and word has it that Santa might be bringing me a copy of her book, A Century Apart; Maine Then and Now (Downeast, 2004), for Christmas.
Since we were in the vicinity of Morse’s Sauerkraut, we meandered northward along Route 220 to Maine’s only commercial producer of the German staple and longtime favorite of the Baumer clan. My grandfather used to make sauerkraut and I would eagerly anticipate the late fall ritual, when he, along with my uncle Bob, and my father, put up their supply of fermented cabbage for the winter. With only one cousin currently keeping alive the family's tradition, I learned to make ‘kraut and have put up my own supply over the past few winters. Unfortunately, the busyness of having a book to schlep around, kept me from making any this year.
Morse’s Sauerkraut has been producing this delectable treat since 1918. They have a well-stocked specialty food store at the farm, where visitors can, of course, supply themselves with sauerkraut. They also have an ample supply of sausages, pork products, cheeses, homemade pickles, Aunt Lydia’s Beet Relish, as well as a variety of German pastries and other treats.
Apparently, sauerkraut has acquired newfound interest, as it has been found to have health benefits above and beyond that which Germans and other connoisseurs have always known about the delicacy. Scientists in Seoul, Korea have found that chickens, infected with the Avian flu virus, began to recover, when fed an extract of kimchi (a Korean dish, similar to Sauerkraut). Additionally, sauerkraut may have properties that lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer. And you just thought sauerkraut tasted good, right?
With winter’s doldrums beginning to set in, now’s the time to venture out and reclaim the state’s roadways as your own. Never have the Pine Tree State’s corridors been so free of annoying tourists and other outsiders. Maine’s hidden treasures are there to enjoy for another few months before Memorial Day’s onslaught begins anew. An additional bonus of trips to places other than Cumberland and York counties, particularly north and downeast, is that one gets to experience firsthand the character and quality of Maine, the way life used to be, back before our state began to be gobbled up by wealthy land barons. Enjoy it now, before some flatlander puts up a “keep out” sign in the not-too-distant future.