Daily Life in New France

Soldiers

The Cooking Pot

In the Royal Navy, it was customary to eat in groups of seven when the soldiers were not staying in private homes. Each of these groups, or "plats" as they were called, had an iron pot with a handle, as well as a ladle for stirring and serving. For the noon meal, they usually cooked porridge over the fireplace or on the stove, adding salted bacon and anything else that could be included. For the evening meal, the bacon used at noon was simply replaced by dried peas. After supper, the pot was carefully scoured. It would not be used again until lunch because only bread was eaten for breakfast.

In theory, soldiers did not have individual plates. They ate like sailors and poor peasants in France, out of the common pot, with their bread serving as plates. However, soldiers did have pocket-knives or kitchen knives, spoons and cups. These rather rough conditions apparently changed considerably during the eighteenth century, for archeological digs in several French forts in North America have uncovered many plates, forks and spoons. As manners in general society became more refined, soldiers apparently also acquired inexpensive plates in order to eat more comfortably.