F Heritage History | Richard of Jamestown by James Otis
Contents 
Front Matter Who I am Left Alone in the World An Idle Boy Captain Smith Comes to London Meeting Captain Smith Captain Smith Speaks to Me Plans of the London Company The Vessels of the Fleet How I Earned my Passage When the Fleet Set Sail The Voyage Delayed Nathaniel's Story We Make Sail Again The First Island Captain Smith Accused Captain Smith a Prisoner I Attend My Master Several Islands Visited A Variety of Wild Game The Tempest The New Country Sighted The Leader Not Known Arrival at Chesapeake Bay An Attack by the Savages Reading the Company's Orders Captain Smith on the Council Smith Remains Aboard Exploring the Country People Land from the Ships Captain Smith Proven Innocent We Who were Left Behind Baking Bread without Ovens Unequal Division of Labor Building a Home of Logs Keeping House Lack of Cleanliness Cave Homes The Golden Fever Ducks and Oysters Roasting Oysters Leaning to Cook The Sweet Potato Root A Touch of Homesickness Master Hunt's Preaching Neglecting the Future Surprised by Savages Strengthening the Fort Sickness and Death Smith Gains Authority Disagreeable Discipline Signs of Rebellion Second Proclamation Building a Fortified Village Trapping Turkeys A Crude Kind of Chimney Cooking a Turkey Candles or Rushlights The Visit of Pocahontas Captain Kendall's Plot Death of Captain Kendall Captain Smith's Expedition An Exciting Adventure Taken Before Powhatan Pocahontas Begs for Smith Captain Smith's Return A New Church Captain Newport's Return Gold-Seekers A Worthless Cargo Condition of the Colony Tobacco Captain Newport's Return Gazing at the Women Hunt Brings Great News Captain Newport's Instructions The Story of Roanoke The Crowning of Powhatan Preparing for the Future Stealing Company Goods What the Thieving Led To Fear of Famine The Unhealthful Location Gathering Oysters Sturgeon for Food Turpentine and Tar Making Clapboards Providing for Children Dreams of the Future A Plague of Rats Treachery During Smith's Absence Captain Smith's Speech The New Laws The Accident Captain Smith's Departure The "Starving Time" Our Courage Gives Out Abandoning Jamestown Lord De la Warr's Arrival The Young Planters

Richard of Jamestown - James Otis




Cooking a Turkey

And this is how we could roast a turkey: after drawing the entrails from the bird, we filled him full of chinquapin nuts, which grow profusely in this land, and are, perhaps, of some relation to the chestnut. An oaken stick, sufficiently long to reach from one side of the fireplace to the other, and trimmed with knives until it was no larger around than the ramrod of a matchlock, forms our spit, and this we thrust through the body of the bird from end to end. A pile of rocks on either side of the fireplace, at a proper distance from the burning wood, serves as rests for the ends of the wooden spit, and when thus placed the bird will be cooked in front of the fire, if whosoever is attending to the labor turns the carcass from time to time, so that each portion may receive an equal amount of heat.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

I am not pretending to say that this is a skillful method of cooking; but if you had been with us in Jamestown, and were as hungry as we often were, a wild turkey filled with chinquapin nuts, and roasted in such fashion, would make a very agreeable dinner.

We were put to it for a table; but yet a sort of shelf made from a plank roughly split out of the trunk of a tree, and furnished with two legs on either end, was not as awkward as one may fancy, for we had no chairs on which to sit while eating; but squatted on the ground, and this low bench served our purpose as well as a better piece of furniture would have done.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

When the captain was at home, he carved the bird with his hunting knife, and one such fowl would fill the largest trencher bowl we had among us.

Nor could we be overly nice while eating, and since we had no napkins on which to wipe our fingers, a plentiful supply of water was necessary to cleanse one's hands, for these wild turkeys are overly fat in the months of September and October, and he who holds as much of the cooked flesh in his hand as is needed for a hearty dinner, squeezes therefrom a considerable amount in the way of grease.

We were better off for vessels in which to put our food, than in many other respects, for we had of trencher bowls an abundance, and the London Company had outfitted us with ware of iron, or of brass, or of copper, until our poor table seemed laden with an exceeding rich store.