After a long day hauling their weary bodies across the frontier, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark dined on a cuisine as varied as the landscape.

Mary Gunderson recreates those meals in her book “The Food Journal of Lewis and Clark: Recipes for an Expedition,” which has been released in conjunction with the bicentennial of their journey.

Her goal: to create a culinary time machine. She calls it “paleocuisinology.”

“History is very much a part of what we are today,” she said.

Gunderson used the men’s journals to help bring that history alive through food. We can taste their experience.

Lewis and Clark wrote about what they ate almost every day, and they cared about flavor. Gunderson couples journal entries and narrative with the recipes, so readers get a dose of history along with dinner.

Lewis was quite passionate about boudin blanc, a mild buffalo sausage Sacagawea’s husband Toussaint Charbonneau made: “this white pudding we all esteem one of the greatest delacies of the forrest.” (May 9, 1805)

Whereas, Clark favored the sourdough bread that Sacagawea made for him: “this bread I eate with great Satisfaction, it being the only mouthfull I had tasted for Several months past.” (Nov. 30, 1805)

The book marks places along the journey with more than 80 recipes from their beginnings in Washington and Philadelphia enjoying ice cream and lemon meringue pie; to the Plains and the many uses of corn and buffalo; and their arrival on the West Coast and salmon country.

There are no photos, but the book is cleverly designed with ragged-edged pages and lovely sketches of their route.

Gunderson had to improvise a bit to select ingredients that are widely available and to adapt the recipes for modern tastes and kitchen equipment.

She also drew on her experience growing up in South Dakota, as well as her training as a food journalist, working for publications such as the Minneapolis Star, Midwest Living and Better Homes and Gardens.

Gunderson has also written a series of children’s books about history and food including “Cowboy Cooking” and “Southern Plantation Cooking.”

To find out more or to order the book, go to on the Web.

The following recipes will make a lovely summer feast as you celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of Lewis and Clark’s grand travels.

This chowder is broth based, so it is refreshing but still filling. The simple flavors meld to make a satisfying soup and the sweet potatoes give it a vibrant color. It served four as a main course in the test kitchen.

Lewis and Clark were at Fort Clatsop from Nov. 5, 1805, to March 22, 1806. The winter was rough on the expedition and they often traded for pounded fish, roots and berries to eat.


4 cups vegetable or chicken broth¼ pound smoked salmon½ pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced½ cup sliced fennel1 small onion, peeled and choppedSalt and freshly ground black pepper1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds

Fort Clatsop Sourdough Biscuits, for serving

Bring the broth to a boil. Stir in the salmon, potatoes, fennel and onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and serve immediately with Sourdough Biscuits. Makes six to seven servings.

Recipe from “The Food Journal of Lewis and Clark: Recipes for an Expedition” by Mary Gunderson (History Cooks, 2003).

These biscuits are rustic and you can imagine enjoying them by a campfire. Be sure to begin the starter a few days ahead. Never freeze starter or use metal utensils.


¼ cup Sourdough Starter½ cup warm water or milk (120 degrees)1½ to 2 cups all-purpose flour2 teaspoons brown sugar½ cup whole wheat flour½ teaspoon baking powder¼ teaspoon baking soda¼ teaspoon salt1 tablespoon butter or margarineButter and honey, for serving

The night before or eight hours ahead, mix the starter, water and ½ cup of the all-purpose flour in a medium bowl. Cover with a clean towel. Set aside in a warm (70 to 80 degrees) place overnight.

The next day, stir in the brown sugar. Set aside. Combine ¾ cup all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into the starter mixture. Beat until smooth. The mixture will be wet. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons additional flour on a clean, dry cutting board. Turn the dough onto the board. Gently form the dough into a ball. To knead the dough, push it out with the heel of your hand. Fold in the sides. Rotate a quarter turn. Repeat, adding flour by teaspoons, until a soft dough forms, about eight turns. Take care not to add too much flour or the biscuits will be tough.

Gently press the dough into a 9- by 4-inch rectangle about ½-inch thick. With a 2½-inch floured biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut into rounds. Reroll dough scraps once.

Melt the butter in a 9-inch pan. Place biscuits and trimmings in pan. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the biscuits are slightly browned and sound hollow when tapped. Remove to a wire rack. Best eaten hot. Makes about eight biscuits.

Recipe from “The Food Journal of Lewis and Clark.”


2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast2 cups warm water, 120 degrees2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, stirring occasionally.

At the end of the standing time, either use immediately or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate in a ceramic, glass or plastic bowl. Replenish the starter after each baking: Stir equal amounts of water and flour into starter. For example, if you remove ¼ cup of starter, add ¼ cup warm water and ¼ cup flour. Let the starter stand at room temperature several hours until it bubbles. Refrigerate. Makes 3 cups starter.

Recipe from “The Food Journal of Lewis and Clark.”

This is simply divine. Our testers raved over this dessert. The pastry was flaky and the berries weren’t too sweet. We cheated a bit and added a dollop of vanilla ice cream when serving. A perfect ending for your Lewis and Clark party.

The expedition encountered many native berries including chokecherries, currants, gooseberries and serviceberries.


For the pastry:1½ cups all-purpose flour½ cup whole wheat flour½ teaspoon salt½ cup butter plus 1 tablespoon6 to 7 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries1½ cups fresh or frozen blackberries or raspberries½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed½ teaspoon salt¾ cup hot water

To prepare the pastry, mix together the flours and combine 1¾ cups flour and ½ teaspoon salt. With a pastry blender or with two knives, cut in ½ cup butter until the mixture is the size of shelled peas. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir until the pastry holds together. Roll the pastry to a 12- by 8-inch rectangle.

To make the filling, mix all the berries with the brown sugar, the remaining ¼ cup flour and salt. Remove and reserve 1 cup of berries.

Spoon the berries over the pastry. Dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Roll up from the long side like a jelly roll. Moisten the edge and pinch to close the seam. Carefully transfer to a well-greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Place the roll at an angle, if necessary.

Bake in a 450-degree oven for 12 minutes. Spoon the remaining berries on either side of the roll. Pour in ¾ cup of hot water and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbly inside and outside of the roll. Slice and serve with warm berry sauce.

Makes eight servings.

Recipe from “The Food Journal of Lewis and Clark.”

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