The History of American Cuisines
which Europeans named the Virginia
due to being larger than the European dwarf mountain strawberry,
as well as huckleberries,
sumac berries, juniper berries, hackberries, elderberries,
hawthorne fruit, pitaya, white evening primrose fruit, and nuts
included rabbit, raccoon, Virginia Opossum, squirrel, wood rat,
chipmunk, ground hog, peccary, prairie dog, skunk, badger, beaver,
and porcupine. Game birds included turkey, partridge, quail,
pigeon, plover, lark and osprey. Water fowl was quite abundant and
varied, particularly on the coasts such as ducks, geese, swans,
crane and sea crane.
Other aqueous proteins included alligators and frogs, from which
the legs were enjoyed, especially bullfrogs. Snail meat was also
enjoyed, along with various turtles such as the painted turtle,
wood turtle, and snapping turtle along with their eggs. In
addition the sea turtle and green turtle, endangered today were
considered an important spiritual protein by the American Indians.
eaten by the American Indians were cod, lemon sole, flounder,
herring, halibut, sturgeon, smelt, drum on the East Coast, and
olachen and salmon on the West Coast. Whale was hunted by American
Indians off the Northwest coast, especially by the Makah, and used
for their meat and oil. Seal and walrus were also utilized.
Eel from New York's Finger Lakes region were eaten. Catfish seemed
to be favored by tribes, including the Modocs. Crustacean included
shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and dungeness crabs in the Northwest
and blue crabs in the East. Other shellfish include abalone and
geoduck on the California coast, while on the East Coast the surf
clam, quahog, and the soft-shell clam. Oysters were eaten on both
shores, as were mussels and periwinkles.
American Indians utilize a number of cooking methods.
Grilling meats was common. Spit roasting over a pit fire was
common as well. Vegetables, especially root vegetables were
often cooked directly in the ashes of the fire. As early
American Indians lacked the proper pottery that could be used
directly over a fire, they developed a technique which has caused
many anthropologists to call them "Stone Boilers".
The American Indians would heat rocks directly in a fire and then
add the bricks to a pot filled with water until it came to a boil
so that it would cook the meat or vegetables in the boiling water.
Another method was to use an empty bison stomach filled with
desired ingredients and suspended over a low fire. The fire would
have been insufficient to completely cook the food contained in
the stomach however, as the flesh would burn so heated rocks would
be added to the food as well. Some American Indians would also use
the leather of a bison hide in the same manner.
The American Indians are credited as the first in America to
create fire-proof pottery to place in direct flame. In what is now
the Southwestern United States, American Indians also created
ovens made of adobe called hornos in which to bake items such as
breads made from cornmeal. American Indians in other parts of
America made ovens out of dug pits.
These pits were also used to steam foods by adding heated rocks or
embers and then seaweed or corn husks (or other coverings) placed
on top to steam fish and shellfish as well as vegetables; potatoes
would be added while still in-skin and corn while in-husk, this
would later be referred to as a clambake by the colonists. The
hole was also a location for producing what has become Boston
baked beans made from beans, maple sugar and a piece of bear fat.