One of the great travel experiences is the opportunity to taste new foods – how much more exciting must this have been in times past, when so little was known of other places?
History is full of stories of the strange foods eaten by adventurers and explorers out of curiosity, as well as, at times, absolute necessity, and some of these have featured in this blog before (see the links below). There are many stories too, of such men (for they are virtually always men) being saved from starvation by thanks to gifts of food from the local ‘savages’.
Sometimes of course, the sharing of food between the indigenous people and their visitors was a friendly and joyful experience, as in the following description of an event that took place in early in the seventeenth century, and recorded some decades later in New-England's memorial 1669 by Nathaniel Morton, William Bradford, Thomas Prince, Edward Winslow
1621 (?): Tuesday [July … ]. At nine this morning, we set out travel fifteen miles westward to Namasket by three in the afternoon. The people entertain us with joy, give us bread they call Maizum, and the spawn of shads which they now have in great plenty, and we eat with spoons. By sunset we get eight miles further to a Ware, where we find many of the Namascheuks, i.e. Namasket men a fishing having caught abundance of bass; who welcome us also, and there we lodge.
Recipe for the Day.
We don’t know how the shad roe in the story above was prepared, but here are simple instructions from Mrs. Fryer's Loose-Leaf Cook Book, published in the USA, 1922
Shad roe may be baked, broiled, or fried. To broil, wipe dry; sprinkle with pepper and salt and cook five minutes on each side. Butter well and stand in the oven for a few minutes; then serve garnished with parsley and lemon. To fry, proceed as with fish, but cook the roe for ten minutes first in boiling water.
This list may not be exhaustive, but here are some stories from this blog about explorers and their food:
Stories featuring the Australian explorer Ludwig Leichardt are here, here, and here.
Stories from the Lewis and Clark expedition across the North American continent are here, here, and here.
A story about Australian explorer John Horrocks is here
A story about David Livingstone in deepest, darkest Africa is here.
A story about Australian explorer Ernest Giles eating parrot soup, here.
Australian explorer John Oxley has a fish dinner, here.
A story about Australian explorer John Eyre is here.
Quotation for the Day.
When we examine the story of a nation's eating habits, describing the changing fashions of preparation and presentation and discussing the development of ifs cuisine throughout the ages, then we find an outline of the nation's history, harking back to those distant days when a scattered tribe lurked in dismal caves, feeding on raw fish and plants and the hot. quivering flesh of wild beasts, lately slain with a rude spear.
Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935)