Food Facts: Meals in Colonial America

By Leeya

Food can tell us a lot about history. It connects people and places and it speaks to the culture and traditions of a place. Not to mention, we need it to live. 

This summer, I visited Fort Ticonderoga, looking out on the Adirondack Mountains. This beautiful historical landmark was once the tipping point of the Revolutionary War. It was the first offensive victory for the Americans: a win for the small guys against an entire empire. 

In the past hundred years, Fort Ticonderoga has been converted into a privately run historical site that people can visit.

During our visit, we got to watch one of the employees create a meal that would be made during colonial America. The meal consisted of beef and black eyed peas stew, molasses-based hot chocolate, spruce beer, and freshly baked bread. They all represented what was going on in the political climate at the time. For example, George Washington was getting a lot of chocolate from the north coast of South America at the time, so hot chocolate was made. Molasses was very multifaceted, as soldiers during the Revolutionary War would use it to cook up with salted pork. This gave it a sweet and sour flavor. In addition, many people drank spruce beer. It is full of vitamin C, which combats scurvy. Colonizers adapted this from Natives after seeing them drink tea with spruce needles. The stew was made of cabbage grown in the garden and other greens. Lastly, the employee showed us the process of checking if the clay oven was ready to bake bread. He scraped the coals and banked them against the oven to see if the heat was powerful enough to cook the bread fully through, but weak enough to not burn it.

The most interesting thing I saw was the reversed gender roles! In the 21st century, you can see a woman chopping wood while a man cooks. 

Overall, Fort Ticonderoga was an immersive experience that I highly recommend!