INDIAN CORN FOODS.
The colonists obtained their
first knowledge of how to use corn as a food from the New England Indian
tribes. Capt. John Smith, in his accounts, mentions the preparation of
several corn foods. The Iroquois Indians had at least 40 different ways of
cooking corn. The "travelling food" of this tribe is an interesting example,
as showing Indian food combinations. Soft or flour corn was used. It was
shelled and parched slightly in the embers of a wood fire. Then it was
thrown into a mortar, maple sugar was added, and it was pounded and sifted
until it was a very fine meal. Sometimes dried fruits, such as cherries,
were pulverized with it. The food was carried on hunting expeditions and in
time of war. One-fourth of a pound, diluted in a pint of water, was a good
Succotash was a dish prepared by New England and middle-western
tribes. Corn was cut from the cob, placed in a kettle with a quantity of
beans, and then boiled. Salt and butter were added as seasoning.
According to Dr. Walter Hough, of the National Museum, the Hopis
had 52 kinds of corn foods. One of the main ones was prepared as follows:
Large pits were dug in the sand. They were heated with burning brush, filled
with roasting ears, and tightly closed for a day. When the pit was opened,
corn feasts were held.
Hominy was a food used by most of the northern and middle-western
tribes. Wood ashes were used to make lye water for removing the hulls. Flint
corn kernels were placed in the water with the wood ashes. The water was
boiled until the hulls were removed. The hulled corn was then rinsed off,
put into another kettle with clear water, and oiled.
A food of the Gros Ventre Indians, called "husared," was prepared
by grinding corn and placing it in corn husks. The husks were folded over
with the corn on the inside, tied up, and then dipped into boiling water.
Corn smut (Ustilago zea) was often used as a food by some
tribes. The Gros Ventre tribe gathered the smut, boiled it, dried it, broke
it into bits, and ate it with corn as a relish. It is said to have tasted
like corn and was very palatable.