Foods and Feasts celebrates 17th-century cuisine, culture

JAMES CITY -- From hunting and trapping to butchering and salting, Jamestown Settlement visitors glimpsed 17th-century culinary habits on Thanksgiving weekend.

Visitors even got a chance to sample select dishes at this year's Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia.

At the riverfront, Jamestown Settlement historical interpreter Alexis Harvey demonstrated how biscuits would have been prepared for settlers' voyages across the Atlantic.

"An important thing to remember is that everything has to be stored in a barrel for a long period of time for the voyage," said Harvey, "so you're going to see a variety of different dried products."

Included at Harvey's station were portions of dried fruits and meat, hard cheese and salted fish.

Harvey said she hopes the Foods and Feasts celebration gives visitors a better understanding of Jamestown cultures and their relationships to each other.

"And also that foodways are a bridge in learning about each other's culture," she said.

In the Powhatan Indian village, historical interpreters cooked turkey, duck and fish over open fires in addition to showing how Powhatans preserved their food without salt or refrigeration.

The Powhatans smoked meat and dried vegetables, hanging meat from ropes in their dwellings. Smoke from small fires kept burning inside preserved the meat.

Jamestown Settlement's Lynn Powell wrapped fish in clay to bake over hot coals.

"We want them to understand how the Powhatans got their food," said Powell. "They got it through hunting, fishing and over half of their diet is domesticated crops, so they're growing corn, beans and squash."

Near the mall, visitors tasted interpretations of what they saw being prepared.

Custom Culinary Connections served smoked pork and rockfish with English remoulade to go along with butternut squash soup and Devonshire's pudding.

"You just don't get to taste it down there," chef Jeffrey Aczel said of the indian village and river demonstrations. "This is the interpretation here. They're trying to see it and taste it and touch it."

The pork came from a whole hog butchered and processed at James Fort on Thursday and Friday.
The event also included programs on hunting techniques, celestial navigation and artillery.

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