Food in the War of 1812 Transcript


[Tim Compeau] Life in a re-enactment includes every detail, from the battles, all the way down to the daily meals. Re-enactor, Marie Zorniak, spoke with us about her role as the camp cook and the task of trying to recreate the daily rations of 1812.

[Marie Zorniak] In the morning before they go off for battle, we have usually bread or cheese. And then we set about our day duties.

And for lunch: high-protein food that will keep them going. So for lunch this afternoon, in homage to the India Campaign, we had a curry dish. So it was curry and brown rice and vegetables. That is part of what we had this morning. And this evening’s repast will be stuffed pork loin with vegetables and cranberries, seasonal vegetables, and bread.

So everything is prepared on the fire and, as I have no other kitchen help, I ask for help from the fellas. We try to keep quite close. It would be seasonal food. This would have been a joint of pork that we would have received either through hunting or finding from a farmer or trading.

And because food was scarce in many places and many times, you would share what you had. You would create a lot out of a little. And this is part of my, when I do research through journals or I look through recipes, “how can I recreate this?”

I’ve tried recreating some recipes originally. But, still trying to stay true to the recipe, I try to create something similar, again to honour what would have been eaten.

My role is a camp cook. Technically, I would have started as a camp follower with my husband, who would have been marching with the 41st.

However, he died, my value as a cook with the regiment was recognized so they kept me on as a cook.

[TC] Would you be required to remarry within the regiment?

[MZ] I would, and after this battle, you know, there might be some pickings available.

[TC] And what would be your preferred choice if you had to be remarried?

[MZ] Well, I would definitely like someone who was a ranking officer because they would receive more pay and that would elevate my station in life.

But for right now, I am just the camp cook.