"This dish was greatly esteemed by the Indians, but is, in my judgment, the least agreeable they have amongst them."
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Seminole Tripe Soup, 1770
(from the private journals of naturalist William Bartram)
William Bartram was a naturalist and a scholar who traveled throughout Florida and other parts of the Southeastern colonies, relatively untouched by the revolutionary fervor brewing north of him. While gathering descriptions and drawings of native plants in the area, he encountered the Seminole indians--and was invited by Seminole leader Cowkeeper to be guest of honor of the tribe.
"The women and children saluted us with cheerfulness," he wrote, finding the Seminoles a happy people enjoying peace and prosperity in the remote Florida interior.
Cowkeeper gave Bartram unlimited permission to travel and collect flowers and medicinal plants, "saluting [him] by the name Puc Puggy, or the Flower Hunter." He also feasted him on "thin drink," beef barbeque (thanks to cattle that had escaped or been stolen from Spanish cattle ranches), and a hospitality-testing tripe soup.
"Upon our arrival we repaired to the public square or council house, where the chiefs and senators were already convened, the warriors and young men assembled soon after.... The banquest succeeded; the ribs and choicest fat pieces of the bullocks, excellently well barbequed, were brought into the apartment of the public square, constructed and appointed for feasting; bowls and kettles of stewed flsesh and broth were brought in for the next course, and with it a very singular dish, the traders call it tripe soup. It is made of the belly or paunch of the beef, not over-cleansed of its contents, cut and minced pretty fine, and then made into a thin soup, seasoned well with salt and aromatic herbs, but the seasoning not quite strong enough to extinguish its original flavour and scent. This dish was greatly esteemed by the Indians, but is, in my judgment, the least agreeable they have amongst them."
--from a 4/4/99 story by Jim Robinson of The Orlando Sentinel