What did the Settlers Eat for Lunch?
In 1631 the cost of food was high. Little land was tilled, and poaching Indians stole the meager crops. Corn, the great and often the only food, sold at ten shillings the bushel. Corn meant life itself. Sometimes the supply was so low that a ration was only five kernals a day.
On long trips of exploration, while hunting or trailing Indians, pouches of parched corn furnished the principal food. To prepare this, Indian Corn was dried in hot ashes which were then sifted out. The corn was ground to powder and packed into long leather bags. The ration was three spoonfuls a day, mixed with snow or water, according to the season. Roger Williams said that this crude food made the Indians able to carry loads "fitter for elephants than men."
Indian Puddings, sweetened with maple sugar or honey, and boiled in bags, were used day in, day out. Inventive Colonial Dames made dumplings of corn, and "Pones" or "Injun Bread" varied sometimes by adding dried huckleberries, as was done by the Indian squaws. "Sukquattah hash," a most popular dish according to Roger Williams, was "corn seethed like beans."
"Roasting Ears," the Red Man's favorite food, were as much loved that Virginia settlers instituted three plantings, in April, May, June, to insure enough!
Those luncheons of Colonial Days were indeed strange meals. Popped Corn, "white and floury," according to Governor Winthrop, was a "dayntie" - and yet often it formed the whole meal.
Wonderful women they must have been, those housewives of ancient days, feeding their families healthfully on little else save corn.