Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Food was Served at the First Thanksgiving Dinner?

I love food and recipes, so my curiousity about the dinner for the first Thanksgiving lead me to do some online research.  I discovered that what was eaten at the first Thanksgiving may not have been what we actually believed.

The website http://www.oyate.org/resources/shortthanks.html provides the following information:

Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving”

by Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin

Myth #9: The Pilgrims and Indians feasted on turkey, potatoes, berries, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and popcorn.

Fact: Both written and oral evidence show that what was actually consumed at the harvest festival in 1621 included venison (since Massasoit and his people brought five deer), wild fowl, and quite possibly nasaump—dried corn pounded and boiled into a thick porridge, and pompion—cooked, mashed pumpkin. Among the other food that would have been available, fresh fruits such as plums, grapes, berries and melons would have been out of season. It would have been too cold to dig for clams or fish for eels or small fish. There were no boats to fish for lobsters in rough water that was about 60 fathoms deep. There was not enough of the barley crop to make a batch of beer, nor was there a wheat crop. Potatoes and sweet potatoes didn’t get from the south up to New England until the 18th century, nor did sweet corn. Cranberries would have been too tart to eat without sugar to sweeten them, and that’s probably why they wouldn’t have had pumpkin pie, either. Since the corn of the time could not be successfully popped, there was no popcorn. (12) See Plimoth Plantation, “No Popcorn!,” http://plimoth.org/library/thanksgiving/nopopc.htm, and “A First Thanksgiving Dinner for Today,” http://plimoth.org/library/thanksgiving/afirst.htm.

(I have added bold in the text above for emphasis.)

Hmmm....after looking at the "menu" I'm glad I'm eating modern day Thanksgiving food!


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