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Native American Foodways: Part 2 Beans

Grandma Duers' Lima bean soup served with corn bread, recipe below

Today let’s talk about the first of the Native American gastronomical trinity that has influenced the world—beans. Dutchman explorer Jasper Danckaerts provides a interesting Dutch and Amerindian first contact and first European bean encounter scene in his journal. The meeting happens somewhere between Manhattan and the Hudson Valley region in the late 1600s. “On arriving . . . they immediately offered us some boiled beans in a [gourd. The queen] gave us also a piece of their bread, that is, pounded maize kneaded into a cake and baked under the ashes." Here the interesting part for me, he writes, "We ate some of it, more for the purpose of satisfying her people, than our appetite.” Iberians served as the first Europeans in the Americas with the Spanish exploring the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, then South America, and the Portuguese exploring South America in what became Brazil.  In North America the British explored Virginia then the rest of the south and New England. The Dutch explored New York and colonized it before the British gained possession of it. As Danckaerts writes in his journal, Europeans of all stripes reluctantly accepted American beans (garbanzo, great Northern kidney, large lima among others) as a dietary staple. It seems that it took time perhaps generations before they gained popularity-particularly among elites. This remained the case  despite the fact that American beans represented a good source of protein.  Native Americans ate beans in a number of ways and we will talk more about that tomorrow. Here is link to my Hudson Valley roots with my grandmother’s North Carolina lima bean soup recipe which one reader who made it described it as really good dish.


Native American Foodways: More On Beans

Native American Foodways: The Gastronomical Trinity