In Old New York

The Dutch Larder,
page 2 of 13

“Nawsamp is a kind of meal pottage unparched. From this the English call their samp; which is the Indian corn beaten and boiled.”

Samp porridge was a derivative of Indian and Dutch parentage. It was samp cooked in Dutch fashion, like a hutespot, or hodgepot, with salt beef or pork and potatoes and other roots, such as carrots and turnips. These were boiled together in a vast kettle, usually in large quantity, as the porridge was better liked after several days’cooking. A week’s supply for a family was often cooked at one time. After much boiling a strong crust was formed next the pot, and sometimes toward the end of the boiling the porridge was lifted out of the pot bodily—so to speak by the crust and served crust and all. Samp was pounded in a primitive and picturesque Indian mortar made of a hollowed block of wood, or the stump of a tree. The pestle was a heavy block of wood shaped like the interior of the mortar and fitted with a handle attached to one side. This block was fastened to the top of a growing sapling which gave it the required spring back after being pounded down on the corn. Pounding samp was slow work, often done in later years by unskilled negroes and hence disparagingly termed “niggering” corn. After those simple mortars were abandoned elsewhere they were used on Long Island; and it was jestingly told that skippers in a fog could always get their bearings off the Long Island coast because they could hear the pounding of the samp-mortars.

Suppawn, another favorite of the settlers in New York, was an Indian dish made from Indian corn; it was a thick corn-meal and milk porridge. It soon was seen on every Dutch table, and is spoken of by all travellers in early New York.

From the gossiping pages of the Labadist preachers we find hints of good fare in Brooklyn in 1679:—

“Then was thrown upon the fire, to be roasted, a pail full of Gowanes oysters which are the best in the country. They are fully as good as those of England, better than those we eat at Falmouth. I had to try some of them raw. They are large and full, some of them not less than a foot long. Others are young and small. In consequence of the great quantities of them everybody keeps the shells for the burning of lime. They pickle the oysters in small casks and send them to Barbados.


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