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Indian pudding is one of New England’s fundamental comfort foods. Despite its name, it is not a native American dish adapted by colonist cooks. Early settlers considered just about anything made with corn to be Indian in nature. In its most primitive form – beaten corn, boiled with milk — it kept the Pilgrims alive; and as the first adaptation of an English recipe (for wheat meal and milk, known as Hasty Pudding), it signifies nothing less than the beginning of American cookery. Its fundamental mixture of corn meal and molasses tastes like history, as basic a foodstuff as bread itself. An extremely long cooking time – up to 10 hours – is necessary to soften the corn and for the flavors to meld; and although some restaurants add raisins or other flavorings, the only traditional add-on is a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting fast atop each hot serving. It usually is served as dessert by the steaming bowlful; but, like apple pie, it can be found serving double-duty in town cafes, where it becomes breakfast porridge.