20 August 2005

Bison, bison, bison, bread, bison, coffee and bison

The well-known Monty Python skit (here and here) about a restaurant where every dish contains Spam and most items on the menu are along lines of "spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon, and spam" or "spam, bacon, sausage, and spam" has a lesser known real life equivalent.

The members of Major Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, including the zoologist Thomas Say, spent the winter of 1819-1820 at Engineer Cantonment where their usual fare, if they were lucky, was fresh venison, otherwise, "salt pork of a very inferior quality"1. On 25 February 1820, Say and his party were invited to dinner at nearby Camp Missouri. The dinner menu, according to Weiss and Ziegler1, consisted of "the entire bison hump, the rump of the bison roasted, boiled bison meat, two boiled bison tongues, the spinous processes roasted in the manner of spare-ribs, sausages made of minced tenderloin and fat, etc., together with excellent bread, and coffee".

In referring to this menu, Say commented that they had been so long without vegetables that they were not missed.

1. Weiss, H.B. & Ziegler, G.M. 1931. Thomas Say: early American naturalist. Charles C. Thomas.

1 comment:

sylwester said...

The bison sounds delicious. Now I feel obligated to search for more examples of foods eaten by scientists.