thoughts from some hard times.
said; "meat’s meat", many people in
the "know" claim that Bridger made the
statement on a return trip from the shining
mountains. You may be surprised to know that was a
very common term made by many, famous and
not-so-famous starving men....
wrote "meat’s meat, is a common saying in
the mountains", and "from buffalo down
to rattle- snake, including quadruped that runs,
every fowl that flies and every reptile that
creeps, nothing comes amiss to the mountaineer.
was snowbound in the Sierra Mountains in 1844,
he wrote after trapping a coyote. "I soon had
his hide off and his flesh roasted in a dutch
oven. I ate this meat but it was horrible. I next
tried boiling him, but it did not improve the
flavor. I cooked him in every possible manner of
my imagination, spurred by hunger could suggest,
but could not be eaten without revolting my
stomach." On another occasion he wrote of
catching two foxes, roasted one and found
"the meat, though entirely devoid of fat, was
remarked "on October 2, 1805, nothing
except a small prairie wolf killed that day"
they did not comment as to the flavor.
Merriweather Lewis’s journal entry of June 3,
1806 states "our party from necessity having
been obliged to subsist some length of time on dog
have now become extremely fond of their flesh; it
is worthy of remark that while we lived
principally on the flesh of this animal we were
much more healthy and more fleshy than we had been
since we left buffalo country...."
of nothing but dog to eat, which the squaws
cooked. Some of the group cried out "Mad Dog!
Mad Dog! sure enough, he did look like a mad dog;
his head sticking partly out of the kettle, with
his fine ivories, growling as it were, and the
scum was frothing about his teeth...."
camped on the Sweetwater River in 1825 became
separated from his companions, he wrote
"after having killed two badgers, I skinned
and roasted them, making a suitable meal with
while on the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 wrote "I
killed one small prairie dog, roasted it, but
found it strong and unpalatable..."
on the Arkansas River in 1820, complained that
"Our hunters came in having killed a skunk,
which we must keep for our dinner tomorrow."
The next day "boiled the skunk, which tasted
skunkish enough..." Joe Meek had similar
remarks for eating polecats..."
reported that "beaver feeding on wild
parsnips were poisonous and those that ate of the
meat, within a few hours became sick at the
stomach and the whole system became
said "that while flesh of the beaver was
usable, the fore part is of a land animal while
the hind part is of the taste of fish
and his party considered all eggs edible
regardless of their age or condition, embryos well
deve- loped, and small birds only a few days old,
would be cut into small pieces and used in soup or
stews. The same group had a feast with Indians on
the Sierra Nevada range to find that "pounded
fish was really not fish but worms, which suddenly
was rejected by our stomachs when found
journal stated that "ants and snakes when
cleaned and roasted were eaten with flour cakes
for evening meals while in the employment of the
Mexican Army...." and "was probably one
of the better meals available at the time" a
reporter for the hometown newspaper, the Phila.
Evening News wrote.
wrote of the Indians of the Great Salt Lake area
pulverized grasshoppers which they mixed with a
jam of service-berries and dried in the sun to
form a "fruitcake". "Fried
grasshoppers, caterpillars, wood-boring beetles,
termites and spider bodies were disguised in
stews.." "Rattlesnake was occasionally
eaten by these people as a special treat.."
Nuts; hazel, walnut, pinion and acorn were
favorites of these travelers.
journal of May 28, 1824 records that "during
the last two days we have lived on fish we caught
with hooks and lines..." Hooks and lines were
often mentioned on lists of supplies by traders.
Benjamin Kern and Jed Smith have written of eating
"mule meat, making minced boiled mule meat
pies for New Year’s treat... and mentioned that
the pies were very good..."
early travelers made good use of any provisions
available showing great resource fullness for the
situation and location they were put into.
an article in the local paper about "Talking
Turkey", how appropriate this close to the
Holiday’s to write about our American
Holiday’s and our American Bird.
Before European colonization of North America
there were no turkeys outside the Western
Hemisphere. There are only two species of turkeys
in the world, and several sub-species off of them
several centuries later - originally there was our
familiar wild turkey in the United States and
Mexico, and the smaller ocellated turkeys in
subtropical lowlands of Mexico, Belize and
When the Spanish colonized Mexico, they discovered
the wild turkeys kept as domestic animals by the
Indians of Mexico. Archaeological evidence found
in Anasazi ruins in the Four Corners region told
of people of the Southwest having domesticated
turkeys at least 1,300 years ago. The Spanish were
intrigued by these big meaty poultry birds and
shipped them to their homeland in early 1500's,
along with other native American foods that have
become world dietary staples, such as tomatoes,
chiles and onions.
The Spaniards soon found the habits of the big
bird were predictable and their liking for and
being nut-eaters, making trapping them in the oak
brush of the Southwest easy. Although being wary
and secretive, their roosting habits made
capturing them easy for these early explorers.
Duck or Hare (colonies - 1812)
a good deal of water and skim it as often as
anything rises. Half an hour will boil them. Make
a gravy of sweet cream, butter, add flour, a
little parsley chopped small, salt and pepper, and
stew until done, and lay them in a dish and pour
the gravy over them.
Owen, New Lady’s Cook Book,1759
Rabbit/Hare (18th-19th century)
or hare was an esteemed dish in the 18th and 19th
century, so much so that cooks occasionally
doctored beef to try to make it taste like hare.
casing (skinning & gutting) two rabbits,
skewer their heads with their mouths upon their
backs, stick their forelegs into their ribs,
skewer the hind legs doubled (this approved
position in which 19th century rabbits appeared at
the table); next make a stuffing for them of the
crumbs of half a loaf of bread, a little parsley,
sweet marjoram and thyme-all cut fine, salt,
pepper and nutmeg, with (4) ounces of butter, a
little good cream and (2) eggs; put it into their
bodies, and sew them up; dredge and baste them
well with lard; roast them about an hour. Serve
them up with butter and parsley. Chop the livers,
and lay them in lumps around the edge of the dish.
a rabbit and a hare are different, according to
Harpers Magazine, a rabbit being raised and a hare
being wild. Wild hares in some areas are reported
to have a disease and may be harmful if eaten.
Hams (Indian Wars)
meat is best roasted and may be treated the same
as pork, cooking twenty minutes to every pound.
Prepare the hams in the usual manner by rubbing
them with common salt and draining them; Take (1)
ounce of saltpeter, half a pound of coarse sugar
and the same quantity of salt; rub it well into
the ham, and in three days pour a pint of vinegar
over it. A fine foreign flavor may also be given
to the bear hams by pouring old strong beer over
them and burning juniper wood while they are
drying; molasses, juniper berries and
highly-flavored herbs, such as basil, sage,
bay-leaves and thyme mingled together, and the
hams well rubbed with it, using only a sufficient
quantity of salt to assist in the cure, will
afford an agreeable variety.
Roper, Phila Cook Book,1886
nice size steaks from the neck or haunch while
having your griddle well buttered, and fire clear
and hot (cook in a hot frying pan). Lay steaks on
the bars and boil rapidly, turning often not to
lose or a drop of juice. They will take three or
four minutes longer than fine beef steaks. Have a
chafing dish, a pinch of salt, a little pepper, a
tablespoon of currant -jelly for every pound, and
a glass of wine for every (4) pounds. This should
be liquid, and warmed by boiling water under a
dish, heat in a saucepan. Lay each steak in the
mixture and turn over twice. Cover closely and let
all heat together, with fresh hot water underneath
-serve in an ordinary dish, covered.
Webster, The Improved Housewife,1854
Pemmican (makes 1 1/2 lbs)
oz. of chipped beef, (1) 6 1/2 oz. of roasted
peanuts, (1) cup of seedless raisins, (1) 8 oz.
bar of beef suet, make a quick trail lunch / high
beef on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes @ 140 degree
oven, chop nuts and raisins up into small pieces,
melt suet in a large skillet - low heat. Combine
dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (beef cut in
1/4" shreds), add melted suet - mix
thoroughly. Spread mixture in half inch layer in
shallow pan, refrigerate until the layer is hard
and then slice into squares. Wrapped in foil, bars
stay clean and fresh, will keep for a year in
was rewritten in the 1930’s for use in a hunting
camp in Pennsylvania, the original 1840’s recipe
has been lost in the passage of time.
N Conner, Jr., Milroy, Pa. 1937
the nicer fish, more simply it should be prepared.
A long , narrow fish skillet with a rack is the
best to boil fish in, but even a deep frying pan
and a cheesecloth sling, which lets you remove the
fish from the water without breaking, will do.
Start the fish in cold water, with salt and
vinegar in it, or in cold court bouillon. Bring it
slowly to a boil and simmer gently until just
done, 8 to 10 minutes to the pound. Serve hot,
with lemon wedges or a tart sauce.
Moultee (Rev. War & War of 1812)
any nice fish,(roll it in) egg, bread crumb and
fry it with a little turmeric and butter, after
cutting it to a nice fillet. Scrape half a fresh
coconut, take the milk from it (or soak dried
coconut a couple of hours in a little warm water,
then use the water), cut some green gringer, green
chilies in slices, boil them with the coconut milk
and a little water. Add the fish and let stew
until the sauce is slightly thickened. Send to the
table with rice.
Fish (Civil War)
of fish may be rolled in corn meal, dredged in
flour, dipped first in beaten egg and then in fine
bread crumbs, or fried plain. Small fish or small
pieces of fish may be dipped in batter and deep
fried. For deep frying, the fat should be
moderately hot; for sautéing, the pan should be
hot but not smoking. Lay the fish in and fry it
according to size and thickness, about 10 minutes
per pound. Turn it only once. Serve it with slices