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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 continent.

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