Just blocks away from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum are two of the nation's most famous barbecue restaurants, Gates Barbecue and Arthur Bryant's Barbecue. As I wait in a long line for a pork sandwich at Arthur Bryant's, I reflect on the Corps of Discovery's diet.
Hauling a heavy keelboat upriver, canoeing through rapids and pushing on over snowy mountains day after day, the men devoured seven-to-nine pounds of food a day -- quantities not matched until Takeru Kobayashi set the world hot dog-eating record at Coney Island.
What did they eat? A diet of so much meat that even Dr. Atkins would have suggested they mix in some rice and pasta.
In addition to supplies of flour, corn and dried meat, they ate whatever they could hunt and forage along the way -- buffalo, deer, bear, elk, beaver (the tail was considered a delicacy), salmon, geese, pheasant, berries and, when game was extremely scarce and the Corps desperate for food, dog and the occasional horse. The meat was occasionally ridden with bacteria. They drank from the Missouri River, which Clark wrote usually contained half a wine glass of ooze to every pint.
Still, it beats today's fast-food filet o' fish sandwich.
Oddly, the Corps was so used to their meat diet that they grew violently sick when they ate what we consider a delicacy: the salmon of the Columbia River system. Lewis even preferred eating dog to eating salmon.
And even accounting for the buffalo hunt, the skinning process, the return to camp and the cooking of the meat, it still took less time than it did for me to get to the front of the Arthur Bryant's line to order my sandwich.