Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chapter 13: Trail Mix

While in Salt Lake we dined at a little restaurant named "The Red Iguana", a restaurant that has received the honor of being named "The Best Mexican Food Restaurant" in Salt Lake for about 10 years running.

As you can tell by the menu, it's not your run of the mill Mexican hole in the wall.

Above is what I ordered, which is the last item on the menu pictured at the top of the page.
The menu has many pages, and it always takes time to figure out what to order each visit.
Of course I was thinking about our story as we ate.
And wondered what Hannah ate on the trail.
I imagine it wasn't anything as tasty as this.
So what did they eat on the trail?
Trail Mix?
I think not.
Let's find out.
As it happens, there is quite a collection of what are called "Captive Narratives" available to read on the Internet these days.
I can access the hard (paper) copies of the stories at my college library, but I prefer to do research electronically so I can copy and paste at will, mindful of copyright and plagiarism issues.
(And boy am I glad I don't have to teach that snooze of a class at work!)
Arguably the most famous and complete Captive Narratives out there is the one written by Mary Rowlandson, the wife of a Puritan minister who was abducted from Lancaster Massachusetts, a town that neighbored Haverhill in 1675.
Mary survived an amazing three month ordeal three with the Indians and wrote an in depth report about her experiences.
Mary was quite a gal. I think if she were living in modern times, she would be a blogger, as her attention to detail was extraordinary, and she also made sure to include details records of what she ate.
If you have the time, you can read her complete story at this link:
It is a pity she didn't have a digital camera.
Scratch that...Thank God she didn't have a digital camera.
What she ate was pretty disgusting.
And she managed to choke it down anyway.
Hannah Dustin didn't report what she ate during her captivity.
But I imagine it wasn't much different that what Mary Rowlandson ate.
Hannah likely was familiar with the Rowlandson family, and possibly her captive narrative.
The ministry of the Rowlandson's home was soon to affect Hannah's and Mary Neff's life greatly.
But that comes later in our tale.
When Mary Rowlandson was taken captive she was forced to travel without any food for several days. Eventually she was given a spoonful of meal. Later she was given a piece of bear liver, which she eagerly began to roast over an open fire, only to have half of it snatched away before it was even cooked. She then burnt her mouth when she shoved the remaining half cooked piece into her mouth in order to prevent it too from being stolen.
At another time she was given "a finger sized" piece of baked cake, made of corn meal and ground nuts that she put into her "stinking pocket" where it molded overnight. She ate it anyway the next day.
At one stop an Indian woman boiled up an old horse leg, and Mary enjoyed the broth that was offered her.
Later the Indians would pull out horse hooves, or feet, which they had saved to boil when all other meat was gone.
They gathered grain from abandoned fields, abandoned because the homeowners had been massacred earlier.
And they cooked up whatever foods that they had plundered from the Puritans.
Meanwhile, I hope you aren't eating, or have a very strong stomach because I've copied one section of her writing that she wrote at length about what the Indians ate, and occasionally offered to her:

"Though many times they would eat that, that a hog or a dog would hardly touch; yet by that God strengthened them to be a scourge to His people.

The chief and commonest food was ground nuts. They eat also nuts and acorns, artichokes, lilly roots, ground beans, and several other weeds and roots, that I know not.

They would pick up old bones, and cut them to pieces at the joints, and if they were full of worms and maggots, they would scald them over the fire to make the vermin come out, and then boil them, and drink up the liquor, and then beat the great ends of them in a mortar, and so eat them.
They would eat horse's guts, and ears, and all sorts of wild birds which they could catch; also bear, venison, beaver, tortoise, frogs, squirrels,dogs, skunks, rattlesnakes; yea, the very bark of trees; besides all sorts of creatures, and provision which they plundered from the English."

Like I said, Mary was quite a gal. After recounting all this revolting food, this is what she had to say next:

"I can but stand in admiration to see the wonderful power of God in providing for such a vast number of our enemies in the wilderness, where there was nothing to be seen, but from hand to mouth.
Many times in a morning, the generality of them would eat up all they had, and yet have some further supply against they wanted.
It is said, "Oh, that my People had hearkened to me, and Israel had walked in my ways, I should soon have subdued their Enemies, and turned my hand against their Adversaries" (Psalm 81.13-14).
But now our perverse and evil carriages in the sight of the Lord, have so offended Him, that instead of turning His hand against them, the Lord feeds and nourishes them up to be a scourge to the whole land."


Anyway, back to Hannah:
She was captive along with Mary Neff and at least one other Puritan woman who was also called Hannah, and there were 20 Indians, their squaws and their kids.
I'm figuring that means there were at least 40 people, if even just half the Indians had squaws and half of them had one kid.
Maybe the number was more like 50, or 60.
Could of been.
As I will be documenting later, the Indians ate three times a day.
Imagine, if you will, hiking through snow, and mud, and cold etc etc, and three times a day everyone takes a break to eat.
And this hiking on lasted for about 15 days.
I am amazed that they (the Indians) DID have food.
I know I couldn't possibly have dished up food for 50 three times a day for two weeks, even with my ample pantry at hand.
I've cooked for my family on camping trips with Coleman stoves and a store not too far away to replenish the junk food that makes camping such a special treat.
It was challenging to feed the four of us even with those modern conveniences!

I will leave you now to ponder this "manna in the wilderness" scene.

And hope you feel extra blessed by what you have had to eat today in comfort and in peace of your home.


Lovella said...

I just had lunch and am ashamed to say that the casserole didn't turn out as good as it should have.

I'll be pondering today's post for a bit. Good to think about were others have been.

Becky said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers today at lunch, and there is a cake in the oven for strawberries this evening. It would have to be desperate times to be munching on horse hooves, and drinking maggot juice! We are blessed!