Pilgrim Seasonings

Plymouth Colony Foodways: Notes and Recipes from a 17th Century Kitchen

…for chickens to make him broth…

January 24th, 2012 by KM Wall

March 1623

“…. for chickens to make him broth ….’” Good Newes, Applewood ed, p. 24

This   reference to chickens in the Plymouth sources is by Edward Winslow about a visit he made to Packanokick to visit a sick Massasoit. His sends a letter by messenger back to Patuxet (a/k/a/Plymouth)  - at two o’clock in the morning no less – which requests the chickens and other physic as the surgeon might send.

But before the messenger returns, Massosit is feeling better and requests the Winslow use his piece (gun) to kill some fowl and make some English pottage.

This little reference is foodways HEAVEN.  Not only are they mentioning specific  foodstuffs, they are mentioning how they use them and when. Chicken broth is good for those who are ill. Chickens are in Plymouth. Pottage  was served to Massasoit – and he liked it.

The Plymouth sources are the alpha and omega of the foodways search. This is the foodways A-list – what are the things they say  they have. Archaeology is also the A-list, because sometimes they have things and don’t mention them, and court documents, inventories, even extant objects. This is the beginning. This is the stuff that is documented as there.

So then the $64,000 questions here are – just what the heck is ‘pottage’?  And is chicken broth in 1623 like chicken broth now?

Cookbooks will help answer these questions. They help supply the background, and that’s why they’re on my B-list.

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2 Responses to “…for chickens to make him broth…”

  1. Katie says:

    I have a question that might not be worth $64,000- when did people start thinking chicken broth was helpful for people who are sick?

    • KM Wall says:

      Chicken soup has been consider good for the body for quite a while. According to one 17th century physician quoted in Ken Albala’sEating Right in the Renaissance, chicken is ” the most healthy for the human body, it’s flesh is the most tempered, and does not convert easily into either phlegm, bile or melancholy.” In short, no matter who you are or what your complaint, a little chicken will help make it all better.

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