Seafood was a very important dietary element where available, as was game on the edge of settlements, where it was available in sufficient quantities to provide a significant dietary supplement. Almost everyone throughout the nineteenth century followed "winter" and "summer" diets interspersed with transitional periods of increasing or decreasing fresh food. Most Americans attempted to eat three meals a day during the colonial era: breakfast, dinner, and supper. The American diet began taking on a distinctive character almost from the beginning as New World crops were integrated into colonial diets. Corn became the core of the diet, consumed not only as cornmeal but also as an additive to a variety of stews, as fresh corn on the cob, and of course as hominy. The Southwest's pre-European diet centered on a duo of corn and beans with a variety of other vegetative ingredients, most notably chilis and squashes.