A yearly holiday that occurs on the fourth Thursday in November. It is based on the original colonial Pilgrim’s harvest meal from 1621. But what did they really eat?
- Turkey. No records exist stating what the original meal contained however there is a journal left by pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow that states William Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission. Wild turkey was plentiful in the region and would be a common food source for settlers and Native Americans. But the team could have returned with other birds such as ducks, geese and swans. Locally found items such as herbs, onions or nuts would have been used for extra flavor. There is also notes by Winslow that the Wampanoags arrived with an offering of five deer. If roasted over a open fire the colonists could have used the prepped version to create a hearty stew.
- Fruits and Vegetables. The first Thanksgiving might have also contained local fruits and vegetables available to the local natives. These would have been onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and maybe peas. Corn was plentiful but most likely ground into a cornmeal and pounded into a thick mush or porridge and sweetened with molasses. Indigenous fruits would have included blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries and cranberries.
- Fish and Shellfish. Culinary historians think that a lot of the first Thanksgiving was made up of seafood. Mussels were abundant in New England and easily gathered. Other options could have been lobster, bass, clams and oysters.
- Potatoes. Potatoes were originally introduced to Europe from South America when the Spanish brought them back around 1570. But by the time the Pilgrims headed out they were not popular enough for the Pilgrims to take them along. Native Americans ate other tubers like Indian turnips and groundnuts.
- Pumpkin Pie. Without an oven or wheat and flour, early Pilgrims lacked the amenities for making pumpkin pie. But they could have hollowed out the pumpkins, filled them with milk, honey and spices to make a custard and then roasted the gourds in hot ashes.
Our Thanksgiving today is much more refined than what the pilgrims had available to them. Our current traditions are more based on what has been passed down from generation to generation in the form of family traditions. Most often the women of the family carry on the traditions of their mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers with input from their spouses in the form of favorite items.
Nearly 90 percent of people today eat turkey in one of the many preparations. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Communities also put a lot of effort into providing the less fortunate with a “traditional” Thanksgiving meal. In many cities, local food banks and volunteers give out the ingredients to make the meal or work in a shelter fixing and serving meals.
Use this opportunity to give thanks this year for what you have and make it a point to be happy on our day of thanks when you spend it with family or friends.
And remember if you, a friend or family member need assistance with selling or buying a home. Referrals and people needing are welcome!..