Imagine this grocery list: 1200 pounds parchmeal, 3400 pounds flour, half ton hulled corn, nearly two tons pork, 750 pounds salt, 100 pounds lard, 112 pounds sugar, 50 pounds coffee. Whew!
In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark gathered provisions for a grand expedition to secure control of the Louisiana Purchase. Their party of forty-five men and a dog pushed up the Missouri River through Nebraska and the Dakotas into what’s now Montana where they reached the Missouri headwaters, crossed the Rockies, and finally, followed the Columbia to the Pacific.
In 1806, the exhausting journey drew to an 8000-mile close, returning to grand celebrations in St. Louis on September 23rd.
During the trek, the explorers ate much and ate well.
In her book The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark, culinary historian Mary Gunderson brings alive the explorers’ planning, hunting, fishing, gathering, trading, cooking and eating. It is historybook and cookbook all in one, both readable and cookable. The Food Journal fuses hunted foods with found foods and tribal food traditions, then peppers the pages with quotes from Lewis and Clark’s journals and other original sources.
During consecutive September weekends, cities along the Missouri River (including Washington, St. Charles and finally the St. Louis Mississippi Riverfront itself) will host family-friendly events to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the homeward finish of Lewis and Clark’s great expedition.
I wonder what there’ll be to eat?!
The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark
by Mary Gunderson
Time to table: preferably 24 hours
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease (or oil)
- 1 pound buffalo (or beef) stew meat, cubed
- 1/3 cup stone-ground cornmeal
- 1 – 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Water if needed
- 2 cups water
- 1 pound turnips, peeled, cut into eighths
- 1 onion, peeled, quartered
- 1/2 cup dried blueberries (or 1 cup fresh or frozen)
Heat bacon grease til shimmery in a non-stick Dutch oven over medium high. Meanwhile, toss meat with cornmeal, salt and pepper. Brown meat well on all sides, stirring often. (If needed, add water to prevent sticking.)
Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer, cover and cook for 60 – 90 minutes, stirring often, until turnips are cooked. Best made a day before and reheated before serving.
ROASTED PARSNIPS with PINE NUTS
Toss chunks of fresh peeled parsnip in vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400F for 10 minutes. Stir in a half cup of pine nuts. Reduce heat to 350F. Roast another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until parsnips and pine nuts are golden.
• For more information about the Lewis & Clark Expedition, visit Discovering Lewis & Clark
• For the schedule for St Louis-area September 2006 events celebrating the completion of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, visit Currents of Change (website no longer operational)
• To hear the fascinating Mary Gunderson explain how she developed modern-day recipes from Lewis & Clark's food experiences, listen to Remarkable Palate's podcast recorded in August 2006 right here in St Louis
• Learn more about The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark by Mary Gunderson
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