23 June 2011

"Powdered wife" explained

Cannibalism and corpse-eating during the starvation of Jamestown in 1609, as reported by John Smith in The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles:
...as for our hogs, hens, goats, sheep, horse, or what lived, our commanders, officers, and savages daily consumed them—some small proportions sometimes we tasted—till all was devoured...there remained not past sixty men, women, and children, most miserable and poor creatures—and those were preserved for the most part by roots, herbs, acorns, walnuts, berries, now and then a little fish...

Nay, so great was our famine that a savage we slew and buried, the poorer sort took him up again and ate him, and so did diverse one another boiled and stewed with roots and herbs. And one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her before it was known, for which he was executed, as he well deserved; now whether she was better roasted, boiled, or carbonadoed, I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard.
More information at Lapham's Quarterly.


  1. I believe in this context "powdered" would mean salted. It was often used to describe pork or beef that had been salted to store for long periods.

  2. birdman, if you are being sarcastic, you can easily "change the channel"

  3. I was not being sarcastic! actually meant it.

  4. birdman is one of a relatively small group of people who actually express appreciation for posts they like rather than complain about ones they don't like. It's a refreshing change.


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