The Native Peoples and Champlain: Diet
The men would return from hunting and fishing with meat that the wives would mix with the harvests from their vegetable gardens.
Champlain explained the hunting techniques of the Huron:
They form "a line in the woods until they have reached a certain point leading to the river, and then walk in this line with their bows and arrows in hand, screaming and making loud noises to scare the animals. They continue until they reach the water." The animals are then forced to pass through the arrows, or throw themselves into the water or canoes where other Amerindians, armed with blades pressed on pieces of wood, wait for them.
Result of Hunt
William James Topley/National Archives of Canada/PA-13084
At the time, women did not have much free time, as the majority of their day was spent taking care of household chores such as preparing meals, making clothes, cleaning and taking care of loved ones.
Indians Grinding Grain, 1664
National Archives of Canada/C-99218
Eating with one's hands was perfectly acceptable then. In fact, only a few wealthy Europeans had utensils, more specifically silver forks. Metal knives and spoons were generally nonexistent.
No. 1 Pickerel No. 2 Whitefish
National Archives of Canada/PA-48735/Detail
Food was simple and, with the exception of the winter months, plentiful. Here is a menu for Samuel de Champlain and his crew:
Bread and butter.
Meat and fish that was either smoked or boiled was very popular. Salted lard was eaten most often because it kept very well. Sometimes they tried beaver that was easily found in the area and hunted.
We must not forget vegetables: beans, peas, turnips, pumpkins and corn. Ever since Champlain's first voyage to New France, in 1603, "blé d'Inde" and "maïs" (both meaning corn) have been synonymous.
They dried small fruits, a native custom, that were used as provisions throughout the winter. The cold season also forced them to eat roots.
They prepared a broth by adding water to a powder obtained by grinding meat or vegetables.
Catch of Fish Strung Up
William James Topley/National Archives of Canada/PA-13061
For Weddings, Parties or Simply to Indulge
Fruits and vegetables: wildberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peas, beans, pumpkins and turnips.
Meat: salted lard, beaver, fresh pork and suckling pig, tourtière, blood sausage, sausages and fish.
Beverages: wine, beer, rum and brandy.
Raspberries and Wildberries
Message from the ancestors…
"Excessive merriment is the path to grief." Tribal Law No. 119 of the Eastern Algonquin