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The History of American Cuisines

History
Fruits included strawberries which Europeans named the Virginia strawberry due to being larger than the European dwarf mountain strawberry, as well as huckleberries, blueberries, cherries, currants, gooseberries, plums, raspberries, sumac berries, juniper berries, hackberries, elderberries, hawthorne fruit, pitaya, white evening primrose fruit, and nuts proliferated.

Blue crab was cooked by American Indians on the east coast of America.Animals included rabbit, raccoon, Virginia Opossum, squirrel, wood rat, chipmunk, ground hog, peccary, prairie dog, skunk, badger, beaver, and porcupine. Game birds included turkey, partridge, quail, pigeon, plover, lark and osprey. Water fowl was quite abundant and varied, particularly on the coasts such as ducks, geese, swans, crane and sea crane.

Other aqueous proteins included alligators and frogs, from which the legs were enjoyed, especially bullfrogs. Snail meat was also enjoyed, along with various turtles such as the painted turtle, wood turtle, and snapping turtle along with their eggs. In addition the sea turtle and green turtle, endangered today were considered an important spiritual protein by the American Indians.

Seafood
Saltwater fish eaten by the American Indians were cod, lemon sole, flounder, herring, halibut, sturgeon, smelt, drum on the East Coast, and olachen and salmon on the West Coast. Whale was hunted by American Indians off the Northwest coast, especially by the Makah, and used for their meat and oil. Seal and walrus were also utilized.

Eel from New York's Finger Lakes region were eaten. Catfish seemed to be favored by tribes, including the Modocs. Crustacean included shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and dungeness crabs in the Northwest and blue crabs in the East. Other shellfish include abalone and geoduck on the California coast, while on the East Coast the surf clam, quahog, and the soft-shell clam. Oysters were eaten on both shores, as were mussels and periwinkles.

Cooking methods
American Indians utilize a number of cooking methods.  Grilling meats was common.  Spit roasting over a pit fire was common as well.  Vegetables, especially root vegetables were often cooked directly in the ashes of the fire.  As early American Indians lacked the proper pottery that could be used directly over a fire, they developed a technique which has caused many anthropologists to call them "Stone Boilers".

The American Indians would heat rocks directly in a fire and then add the bricks to a pot filled with water until it came to a boil so that it would cook the meat or vegetables in the boiling water. Another method was to use an empty bison stomach filled with desired ingredients and suspended over a low fire. The fire would have been insufficient to completely cook the food contained in the stomach however, as the flesh would burn so heated rocks would be added to the food as well. Some American Indians would also use the leather of a bison hide in the same manner.

The American Indians are credited as the first in America to create fire-proof pottery to place in direct flame. In what is now the Southwestern United States, American Indians also created ovens made of adobe called hornos in which to bake items such as breads made from cornmeal. American Indians in other parts of America made ovens out of dug pits.

These pits were also used to steam foods by adding heated rocks or embers and then seaweed or corn husks (or other coverings) placed on top to steam fish and shellfish as well as vegetables; potatoes would be added while still in-skin and corn while in-husk, this would later be referred to as a clambake by the colonists. The hole was also a location for producing what has become Boston baked beans made from beans, maple sugar and a piece of bear fat.

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