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Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.

Their Food

page 473

Their Food.

Their chief food is the root of the fern dried in the sun, and then roasted and afterwards pounded until, the rind being completely removed, it becomes a paste. This they suck, the thread being thrown away. I have tasted it several times, and have only found it a little bitter. This food must be extremely healthy. We considered it so, as we saw so many old people among them. This root, however, is not their only food. Besides the sweet potatoes and a white root, which resembles couch-grass, they eat fish and shellfish, cooked in a special way. After having wrapped herbage round the food to be cooked, they surround it with stones made red hot in the fire, and place it in a hole dug for this purpose in the ground. They then pour water over it from time to time, and by this means succeed in cooking their sweet potatoes just as well as could be done by boiling water in a large kettle. As far as we know they have no liquors of any kind, and they cared very little for those we had.