Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire

Chapter VII.
The Dutch Larder.

THERE is no doubt that the Dutch colonists were very valiant trenchermen; more avid, perhaps, of quantity and frequency in their food than exacting of variety. Cardinal Bentivoglio (the diplomatist and historian) writing at the time of the first emigration to New Netherland, says that the greatest pleasures of the Hollanders were those of the table. This love of eating made them provident and lavish of food-stores in emigration; and the accounts of scant supplies, poor fare, and dire starvation which are recorded of other colonies, never have been told of the vol-gevoedt Dutch. Then, too, they landed on a generous shore, — no rock-bound coast, — Hendrick Hudson said the finest soil for cultivation that he ever set foot on. The welcoming fields richly nourished and multiplied the Hollanders’store of seeds and roots and grafts. The rye quickly grew so tall that a man could bind the ears together above his head. Van der Donck saw a field of barley in New Netherland in which the barley stems were seven feet high. Domine Megapolensis stated that a Rensselaerwyck schepen raised fine crops of wheat on the same field eleven years in succession. Two ripe crops of peas or of buckwheat could be raised on the same land in one season. The soil seemed inexhaustible; and fields and woods also offered to the settlers a rich native larder. Among these American food supplies came first and ever the native Indian corn, or “Turkie-wheat.” The Dutch (fond of all cereal foods) took to their liking and their kitchens with speed the various forms of corn-food.

Samp and samp porridge were soon their favorite dishes. Samp is Indian corn pounded to a coarsely ground powder in a mortar. Like nearly all the foods made of the various forms of Indian corn, its name is of Indian derivation, and usually its method of preparation and cooking. Roger Williams wrote of it:—


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