Eastern Shore Food Facts
Niblets of food knowledge given to early settlers by the local
Native Americans. Many of these are the basis for a good bit of
our "modern" diet.
- Clambakes: clams were considered poisonus by
the Europeans - until local Indians taught the Europeans
how to bake clams in earthen ovens with seaweed -
a process often used even today.
- Narraganset Indians taught colonists to boil together
whole corn kernels with lima beans and some mild
flavored herbs (all these were known only in the
"New World"). The word to describe this dish
meant "cooked whole grains".....the word is succotash.
- Another Indian food dish - called "squantum" (meaning
mixed pot) - included cranberries and wild turkey (both
known only in the New World)
- Corn: corn-on-the-cob, stewed corn, corn baked into
bread, cooked with other vegtable mixtures, made into
hominy, ground into grits...and corn popped as a snack.....
all were Native preparations - (Corn originated on North
American continent and was widely cultivated.)
- Cornbreads: the modern European version we are all so familiar
with today uses milk & eggs. Indians made very little
use of animal products. The Native cornbreads were
made without milk or eggs....and usually fried or baked.
The names for the Indian cornbread variations are many -
some are hoecake, ash bread, spoon -bread, johnnycake
(actually Shawnee-cake), pone (Algonquian) and
hush puppies (using wild onions),
- Sweet potatoes (another Native cultivated crop
unknown to Europeans): these were baked, mashed, fried.
- Cattails: in autumn cattail heads provided nutritious
flour for breads....and as "cattail-on-the cob". Pollen
was used as a delicate & sweet base to make pancakes.
Dried cattail leaves were used to weave baskets.
Cattail seed fluff was used as stuffing and padding
in Native sleeping "bags" and in cradle boards.
- Wild Rices: used by Natives in many mixed pot dishes
and as flour for baked or fried food preparations.
Rices were widely cultivated in a natural
setting way along easy-access waterways & marshes.
These wild rices are indiginous to the North American