In the reminiscences collected by C.C. Royce, John Bidwell recalled the time when the Indians provided a tasty meal made of ground roasted grasshoppers to Fremont’s troops. John C. Fremont, “the Great Pathfinder,” returned to California on his third exploratory trip in the fall of 1845. By the time they reached the valley, his men were out of provisions, and grateful for anything they could get from the natives. Bidwell recalled:
Fremont’s party got out of provisions, but staid as near where Fremont had told them as possible, and got provisions from the Indians. They staid as long as they could, but when the provisions gave out they went to the San Joaquin Valley and there found the others, and his exploring party was again united. The Indians’ provision was a kind of meal. The men were fond of it. It was rich, pleasant, and spicy to the taste. The calls upon the Indians being urgent, caused them to become rather careless in grinding the aforesaid meal, and Fremont’s men discovered legs, wings, and heads of grasshoppers in it. The meal was simply grasshoppers pounded and pulverized in the usual way. Their fondness for the meal from that time rapidly waned, but not before some had become quite sleek and fat.
“Rich, pleasant, and spicy!” Sounds nourishing too. Anyone want to try some?
Addresses, reminiscences, etc. of General John Bidwell. Compiled by C.C. Royce, can be accessed at the Library of Congress’s American Memory project.