Sunday, November 25, 2012
What Was on the First Thanksgiving Menu?
Harvest image. From cumbavac.org
Thanksgiving is away now, but there are still some left overs of turkey, relish, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and so on. But if you wonder about the original food, let´s read an excerpt from an article by Brian Handwerk at National Geographic.com:
Little is known about the first Thanksgiving dinner in Plimoth (also spelled Plymouth) Colony in October 1621, attended by some 50 English colonists and about 90 Wampanoag American Indian men in what is now Massachusetts.
We do know that the Wampanoag killed five deer for the feast, and that the colonists shot wild fowl—which may have been geese, ducks, or turkey. Some form, or forms, of Indian corn were also served.
But Jennifer Monac, spokesperson for the living-history museum Plimoth Plantation, said the feasters likely supplemented their venison and birds with fish, lobster, clams, nuts, and wheat flour, as well as vegetables, such as pumpkins, squashes, carrots, and peas.
"They ate seasonally," Monac said in 2009, "and this was the time of the year when they were really feasting. There were lots of vegetables around, because the harvest had been brought in."
Much of what we consider traditional Thanksgiving fare was unknown at the first Thanksgiving. Potatoes and sweet potatoes hadn't yet become staples of the English diet, for example. And cranberry sauce requires sugar—an expensive delicacy in the 1600s. Likewise, pumpkin pie went missing due to a lack of crust ingredients.
If you want to eat like a Pilgrim yourself, try some of the Plimoth Plantation's recipes, including stewed pompion (pumpkin) or traditional Wampanoag succotash.