Gateway to the Classics: Ruth of Boston by James Otis
Ruth of Boston by  James Otis

Many New Kinds of Food

There is little need for me to say that we had lobsters in abundance, and of such enormous size that one was put to it to lift them. I have heard it said that twenty-pound weight was not unusual, and whosoever might could catch, in traps made for the purpose, all the lobsters he would.


As for other fish, I can not set down on one page of this paper, the many kinds with which the housewife might provide herself for a trifling sum of money. We often had eels roasted, fried, or boiled, because of father's being very fond of them, and mother sometimes stuffed them with nutmegs and cloves, making a dish which was not to my liking, for it was hot to the tongue.

Some of the good wives in Salem had shown my mother how to prepare nassaump, which those who first came to Salem learned from the Indians how to make. It is nothing but corn beaten into small pieces, and boiled until soft, after which it is eaten hot, or cold, with milk or butter.

Nookick is to my mind more of a dainty than a substantial food, and yet father declares that on a very small quantity of it, say three great spoonfuls a day, a man may travel or work without loss of strength. It is made by parching the Indian corn in hot ashes, and then beating it to a powder. Save for the flavor lent to it by the roasting, I can see no difference between nookick, and the meal made from the ground corn.

Mother makes whitpot of oat meal, milk, sugar and spice, which is much to my taste, although father declares it is not unlike oatmeal porridge such as is eaten in some parts of England; but it hardly seems to me possible, because of one's not putting sugar and spice into porridge.

We often have bread made of pumpkins boiled soft, and mixed with the meal from Indian corn, and this father much prefers to the bread of rye with the meal of corn; but the manner of cooking pumpkins most to my liking, is to cut them into small pieces, when they are ripe, and stew during one whole day upon a gentle fire, adding fresh bits of pumpkin as the mass softens. If this be steamed enough, it will look much like unto baked apples, and, dressed with a little vinegar and ginger, is to me a most tempting rarity. But we do not often have it upon the table because of so much labor being needed to prepare it.

Yokhegg is a pudding of which I am exceedingly fond, and yet it is made of meal from the same Indian corn that supplies the people hereabout with so much of their food. It is boiled in milk and chocolate, sweetened to suit one's taste after being put on the table, and while to English people, who are not accustomed to all the uses which we make of this wheat, it may not sound especially inviting, it most truly is a toothsome dainty.


The cost of setting one's table here is not great as compared with that in England, for we may get a quart of milk by paying a penny, or a dozen fat pigeons, in the season, for three pence, while father has more than once bought wild turkeys, to the weight of thirty pounds, for two shillings, and wild geese are worth but eight pence.

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