Tagged ‘pilgrim’

Saint James

July 25th, 2013 by KM Wall

was also the patron saint of travelers – and pilgrims …

Saint James - note the cockle shell

Saint James – note the cockle shell

Cockles – those lovely little shellfish that Molly Malone kept alive, alive-O-O (along with mussels) are the symbol of the pilgrim. According to one source of hazy authority, it’s because pilgrims didn’t really pack up a picnic to go, but rather got to beg for food along the route of the pilgrimage. But the people on the route were only obligated to give them a cockleshell full. This was to share the burden.




To boyle cockles.

Take water, vinegar, pepper, and beere, and put the cockles in it, then let them seeth a good while, & serve them broth and all. You may seeth them in nothing but water and salt if you will.

-1597. Thomas Dawson. The Second part of the Good Hus-wives Jewell. Falconwood Press: 1988. p. 32.



Another pilgrim. Note the cockle shells, staffs and hats. Pilgrims and  hats…..cockle shells instead of buckles….


To quote Ophelia in Hamlet(iv. 5. 25.)

“How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon.”

Other cockles in the news …. the Coat of Arms for the Spencer family…..a certain Prince of England being one on his mother’s side…

Spencer family coat of arms - notice the cockles shells

Spencer family coat of arms – notice the cockles shells


and as the difference between cockles and scallops….

Scallops, according to Wikipedia - the same photo under cockles

Scallops, according to Wikipedia – the same photo as under cockles

….and then there are the scallops that  are called mussels…..

Did I tell you that August is


Send me your pie questions and concerns. I’m hoping to bring you thirty pies in thirty days.


Lopster lurking

August 1st, 2012 by KM Wall

“…our bay is full of lobsters all the summer, and affordeth variety of other fish…”
-Mourt’s Relation, Applewood ed, p. 84. 11 Dec 1621 letter from E.W. to “Loving and Old Friend”.


Willem Claeszoon Heda. Breakfast with a Lobster (seventeenth century).

“In the same bay, lobsters are in season during the four months [May, June, July and August] –so large, so full of meat, and so plentiful in number as no man will believe that hath not seen. For a knife of three halfpence, I have bought ten lobsters that would well have dined forty labouring men. And the least boy in the ship, with an hour’s labour, was able to feed the whole company with them for two days; which, if those of the ship that come home do not affirm upon their oaths, let me forever lose my credit!”

-John Pory to the Earl of Southampton, Jan 13, 1622/3 in Three Visitors to Early Plymouth, James,ed.p. 9.

Although the painting is labeled “Breakfast with Lobster” it’s pretty apparent that it’s a crab….and at looking at what few recipes there are for lobster (or lopster) they are very often used in the same recipe as a crab. There are also not a whole lot of lobster recipes before the first half of the seventeenth century in English cookbooks, although I do now want to check out all the crab recipes to see if there is more lopster lurking there.

When I look at recipes, I look for persistence – how does this foodstuff show up over the long haul? Since there are so few recipes for lobsters, I ended up going VERY far back. And the recipes are very similar:

1381 Pegge Cook.Recipes (Dc 257) p.115:  Nym the Perche or the Lopuster and boyle yt and kest sugur and salt also thereto.

1381 Pegge Cook.Recipes (Dc 257) 117:  For to make a Lopister. He schal be rostyd in his scalys in a ovyn.

C. 1500 Gentyll manly Cokere (MS Pepys 1047)
A lopstere. A lopster shall be bakyn yn a noven or vnder A pan by the fyre side and then ete hym with vyneAger.

To boil Lobster or Crab.

Take Water, Vinegar, Salt, and Pepper-powder, let it cook well together (let it come to a rolling boil), add Lobster or Crab. He will have a beautiful color.”

-         Rose, Peter. Sensible Cook, p. 70.

The Sensible Cook is a Dutch Cookbook (translated by  Dutch Foodways historian Peter Rose www.peterrose.com/ ) from mid-seventeenth century, so that’s three hundred years of pretty much the same treatment for the lobster   – boil it or bake it and serve it with vinegar. Notice the no butter.

In 1660 Robert May, in The Accomplist Cook tosses in a real game changer: He has a whole section of lobster recipes, starting off with “To stew Lobsters” which includes Claret wine, butter, and then some more butter….; to stew them in clarified butter; to hash them with – yep, that’s right – more butter; and then to boil them,to keep them, to farce them, to marinate them, to broil them, to roast them, to fry them, to bake them, to pickle them, to jelly them, and then there are the ‘otherways’. There are twenty-one recipes in all. Butter abounds. Crabs have a section all their own.

And lobsters rate their own section in the Plimoth Colony story, too. But that’s for tomorrow.


July 16th, 2012 by Carolyn

When you hear the extraordinary word CHEESECAKE, a lot of us think about New York Cheesecake with strawberries on top or a chocolate drizzle, or this place:





Yes… that place, the one where you eat until you hate yourself, and then you get 3 more slices for the way home.







You read that right, the way home. Apparently our cheesecake loving roots go way back, here in the Colonial Foodways Dept. we have quite a few 17th century cheesecake recipes, including this one…




To make Cheesecakes.

Take 6 quarts of stroakings or new milke & whey it with runnet as for an ordinary cheese, then put it in a streyner & hang it on a pin or else press it with 2 pound weight. then break it very small with your hands or run it through a sive, then put to it 7 or 8 eggs well beaten, 3 quarters of a pound of currans, half a pound of sugar, a nutmeg grated or some cloves & mace beaten, 2 or 3 spoonfuls of rosewater, a little salt. then take a quart of cream, & when it boyl thicken it with grated bread & boyle it very well as thick as for an hasty pudding. then take it from the fire & stir therein halfe a pound of fresh butter, then let it stand until it be almost cold, & then mingle it with your curd very well; then fill your coffins of paste & when they are ready to set into the oven scrape on them some sugar & sprinkle on some rosewater with a feather. If you love good store of currans in them, you may put in a whole pound, & a little sack If you please. & soe bake them.

-Hess, Karen. Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery. C 106.


This is very different from the “traditional” New York Cheesecake, but still absolutely delicious. According to Robert May in his book, The Accomplisht Cook, in 1685, these images below are how you could form your cheesecakes. No pie plates here, they would either be free-form pies, or they would have used a pie mold.



Being the daredevil I am, I chose the triangular option, because when making 17th century cheesecake why would you do it the old boring circle way? Next we need a special occasion to make this, because a treat like this would have been rare in 1627 New Plimoth. Thankfully Mary Warren and Robert Bartlett got married this past Saturday!

Here’s what it looked like coming out of the modern oven….



Our sources say that once presented and shown off you cut it up in lozenges sized pieces and eat!


Those square pieces on their plates are the delectable cheesecake. Photo Courtesy of Miriam Rosenblum

Here's Martha getting her cheesecake fix. Photo Courtesy of Miriam Rosenblum






























A great time was had, and all had good belly cheer.

And the answer is…..

July 9th, 2012 by Carolyn





“The leaves or the blades of the Leek be long, somewhat broad, and very many, having a keel or crest in the backside, in smell and taste like to the onion. The stalks, if the blades be not often cut, do in the second or third year grow up round, bringing forth on the top flowers made up in a round head or ball as doth the Onion.”  (Gerard, John “The Herbal” 1633)

Onions and leeks look very similar when they flower. They way to tell them apart is that the leaves of the leeks are board and flat, while those of the onion are round and hollow. Here is a full length view:



Leeks were used in cookery, but beware they are very “hot” in temperature and may offset your humors as this passage warns:


“The Hurts

It heateth the body, ingendreth naughty bloud, causeth troublesome and terrible dreams, offendeth the eyes, dulleth the sight, hurteth those that are by nature hot and choleric, and is noysome to the stomach, and breadth windiness.” (Johnson, Thomas ed. Gerard, John “The Herbal” 1633, pg. 174-175)


So go ahead enjoy your leeks, but beware of impending windiness.


Goodwife Godbertson’s Hollyhock

July 5th, 2012 by Carolyn

Recently Cate M, one of the role-players in the 1627 English Village, made us all these great new garden reference books. From A-Z all the plants we have and their many names, uses, and sources.



New favorite reference book.


So today Goodwife Godbertson, aka. Kelley A, showed me her new gorgeous hollyhock plant in her garden. Which I then realized I didn’t know too much about, so I went back to our new book and learned a few things.





“Hollihock riseth high, seedeth and dyeth; the chief use I know, is ornament.”    -Lawson,”The Country House-wife’s Garden”, 1617-

It goes by the names of hollyhock, hockes, garden mallows, and more. The most common use for it is medicinal, especially in binding and bleeding.



Hollyhock Close-up


And it wouldn’t be a pilgrim seasonings post without a word from Gervase Markham:

“A powder for the stone in the bladder.

For a stone in the bladder take the kernels of sloes and dry them on a tile stone, then beat them to powder, then take the roots of alexanders, parsley, pellitory, and hollyhock, of every of their roots a like quantity, and seethe them all in white wine, or else in the broth of a young chicken: then strain them into a clean vessel, and when you drink of it, put into it half a spoonful of the powder of sloe kernels. Also if you take the oil of scorpion, it is very good to anoint the member, and the tender part of the belly against the bladder.”  -  Gervase Markham, “The English Housewife”, 1615 (Do not try this remedy at home it was the 17th century, just don’t do it.)


So that’s a little information about hollyhocks, who knew? Can anyone guess what this plant on the right is?



Can you guess what this is?



We’re feeling HOT HOT HOT!

June 21st, 2012 by Carolyn

It’s been our first few days over 90 degrees here in Plymouth…



Although, I can’t complain, I’m not outside in pilgrim cloths. Don’t worry though, we take good care of our pilgrims. Sunscreen, gatorade, and hoodsie cups make for very happy, still sweaty, but happy nonetheless pilgrims. Just ask the Bradfords.



So wherever you are, and whatever you’re wearing, Happy Start of Summer!


They didn’t eat people, but they did eat kids.

June 20th, 2012 by Carolyn

Kids, as in goats that is. Nowadays in a world of grocery stores most people see animals as pets rather than a tool, or food source. When in 1627, in New Plimoth, each animal had it’s uses, goats for milk and meat, cattle for milk and field work ( as of 1627 there were not enough cattle to consider slaughtering them yet), dogs for hunting, cats as mousers, etc, etc.



This little guy, whom WE ARE NOT GOING TO EAT, in the 17th century would most likely be headed to the table, if not used for breeding. In New Plimoth you would let him grow up first because there would be more meat, but back in England the higher classes were likely to indulge in dishes such as a kid pie, or in a pottage. Gervase Markham has a recipe in his book The English Housewife, from 1615, describing just that:


“Pottage with whole herbs.

If you will make pottage of the best and daintiest kind, you shall take mutton, veal, or kid, and having broke the bones, but not cut the flesh in pieces, and washed it put it into a pot with fair water; after it is ready to boil, and is thoroughly scummed, you shall put in a good handful or two of small oatmeal, and then take whole lettuce, of the best and most inward leaves, whole spinach, whole endive, whole succor, and whole leaves of cauliflower, or the inward parts of white cabbage, with two or three sliced onions; and put all into the pot and boil them well together till the meat be enough, and the herbs so soft as may be, and stir them oft well together; and then season it with salt and as much verjuice as will only turn the taste of the pottage; and so serve them up, covering the meat with the whole herbs, and adorning the dish with sippers.” pg 76


As seen above Markham also mentions veal could be used, sorry baby cattle you weren’t safe either, and neither were this guys…


I know the cuteness meter is off the charts, but once again Gervase Markham, and his The English Housewife, with another traumatizing recipe:


“To stew a lamb’s head and purtenance.

Take a lamb’s head and purtenance clean washed and picked and put into a pipkin with fair water, and let it boil well till the meat be enough: then take up the lamb’s head and purtenance, and put it into a clean dish with sippets; then put in a good lump of butter, and beat the yolks of two eggs with a little cream, and put it to the broth with sugar, cinnamon, and a spoonful or two of verjuice, and whole mace, and as many prunes as will garnish the dish, which should be put in when it is but half boiled, and so pour it upon the lamb’s head and purtenance, and adorn the sides of the dish with sugar, prunes, barberries, oranges, and lemons, and in no case forget not to season well with salt, and so serve it up.” pg 85


For those of you wondering purtenance means the innards of said animal, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.Yes I know, ew. Thankfully for all our animals its the 21st century and they will live long happy lives with us, even if the pilgrims say otherwise. So go hug your pet, whatever species, and be thankful it’s not 1627.




Moxie sure is…. kind of.

I didn’t even know…

June 18th, 2012 by Carolyn

I’d never heard of Gooseberries until I started working at Plimoth Plantation, which horrified my co-workers, they responded like this…



and thankfully once they got over their initial shock they showed me these…



In The Herbal, by John Gerard, in 1633, he writes:

“The ripe berries, as they are sweeter, … are very seldom eaten or used as a sauce.”

So for us this means we use them before they ripen, when they do they loose their tartness and become pink in color. He also writes:

“They are used in divers sauces for meat, as those that are skillful in cookerie can better tell than myself”


In translation he can’t cook, he just eats. Thankfully we have many cookery sources from the time period and are able to find gooseberries in all sorts of recipes. My favorites are hen cooked with gooseberry sauce, as well as gooseberry tart, both delicious in their own ways. Most recently we fired up the clome oven and baked ourselves a gooseberry tart using this recipe:


“Tartes of Gooseberries.

Lay your gooseberries in your crust, and put to them cinnamon and ginger, sugar and a few small raisins put among them and cover them with a cover.”

A Booke of Cookery with the Serving of the Table; A.W.; 1591; page 28


The result was this…



and a closer look…



We will all sorely miss the gooseberries once they are gone for the season, like all good things in life, like eggnog, but just like that eggnog the gooseberries will be back. And we will all be waiting…. with recipes.


June 13th, 2012 by Carolyn

Have you ever gone into an Italian bakery for those delicious icing and sprinkle covered cookies; also known as italian anisette cookies?  I sure have, but I bet you didn’t know that the recipe for these famous treats is in multiple English cookbooks written throughout the 17th century.


Gervase Markham, Robert May, and the unknown author of Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery all have versions of this recipe. If you’re up for a challenge and maybe a few taste testings, you can translate these authors recipes into sometimes familiar dishes. It’s ok don’t panic I have already translated this recipe from Robert May’s, The Accomplisht Cook, into a modern one:

To Make Jambals

Take a pint of fine wheat flour, the yolks of three or four new

laid eggs, three or four spoonfuls of sweet cream, a few anniseeds,

and some cold butter, make it into paste, and roul it into long

rouls, as big as a little arrow, make them into divers knots, then boil

them in fair water like simnels; bake them, and being baked,

box them and keep them in a stove. Thus you may use them, and

keep them all the year.


So they may not have icing and sprinkles quite yet, but they’re getting there! Now here’s my version for you to make your own authentic English jumbles.




3 cups flour (white or wheat)

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)

3 eggs

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup milk or cream

2 teaspoons ground or whole aniseed


Blend all ingredients except for the aniseed into a paste. The mixture should be slightly sticky, but if too moist add a bit more flour, or if too dry add another egg, or a splash of milk.Grind up the whole aniseed with a mortar and pestle if you have it or just add your ground aniseed directly to the paste. Mix the paste throughly so aniseed is evenly distributed.

Wrap up the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit over night in the refrigerator for best results.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Now flour or oil your hands so the dough will not stick, and take small pieces of dough and roll them into balls about the size of a walnut.

Now roll them into log forms until they are slightly thicker than a pencil. Knot the forms as you wish.

Bake them at 350F for 12-17 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly browned. This recipe makes about 7 dozen depending on the size of your cookies.



What do you eat?

June 12th, 2012 by Carolyn

Sorry we’ve been away for a while, things have been very busy in the foodways kitchen as of late, but I guess now that Downton Abbey and Mad Men are on sabbatical, I have some extra time.











I miss them so much already……




It seems that everyone who comes to Plimoth Plantation is very concerned about what the pilgrims actually ate, and once they hear things like corn, pork ribs, turkey, hen, pies, puddings etc. etc. they seem to be relieved….. That is unless you use the word flesh to refer to animal meat, as you do as a role player, then some poor souls think you eat people, and very hurriedly scurry out of the village, (the pilgrims did not eat people that happened in Jamestown).


Now that it’s summer they main flesh of the pilgrims would have been fish, and this year we have received numerous donations to the colonial foodways department of………





These things are the greatest, kids love them, they are a great second role-player in your house. Everyone is baffled by them, even though lots of people still eat them today, our chicken finger and french fry crowd are usually horrified. Which means they will so remember this moment and all you teach them in it, which is what and why we’re here.


And now I leave you with a little song….



© 2003-2011 Plimoth Plantation. All rights reserved.

Plimoth Plantation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, supported by admissions, grants, members, volunteers, and generous contributors.