Makah Cultural and Research Center Online Museum

Food Preparation

Food was abundant and varied-not just fish, meat, shellfish, oil. starchy roots and berries, but a multitude of relishes and side dishes. People ate eelgrass stalks and salmonberry and thimbleberry sprouts, dried and toasted fish fins and gills, boiled seal flippers and roe from fish and sea urchins. Oil alone came from the blubber of fur seal, whale, and sea lions, and from fishheads and dogfish shark livers.

Some foods were eaten fresh. Others were boiled by using wooden tongs to lift hot rocks from a cooking fire and drop them into a box partly filled with water. Rocks split apart by this sudden plunge into water are common in the Ozette houses. So are cooking boxes, some charred by the rocks. Interestingly, where people cook and store in boxes, they don't make either coiled baskets or pottery as cookware and storage containers. Sticks used for roasting by the fire-as Makahs today roast salmon-have come from Ozette. Steaming and baking on hot rocks set into pits and covered with fern fronds probably also took place.

More important than the various ways of cooking, was the expert food preparation that permitted storage. Air drying and smoking let people draw year-'round on the seasonal abundance of land and sea, rivers and lakes.

Fish Drying

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All content for this exhibit is © Makah Cultural and Research Center.

The Community Museum is a project of community organizations and Tribes across the Olympic Peninsula, and the University of Washington.
Support for the project comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Preston, Gates and Ellis, LLP.