Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It's almost Thanksgiving!

This time of year the front feature of magazines are covered with delicious, decadent food, but did you know that so many of the foods we call traditional today were not actually featured at the very first Thanksgiving?

So when it comes to the menu, who did and who did not have a seat at the first Thanksgiving table?

Whether they be fried, mashed, roasted, what-have-you, potatoes were actually not present at the original feast in 1621. White potatoes did not make their way to the United States until about 1719 when they were first harvested by Scotch-Irish immigrants in New Hampshire and sweet potatoes would arrive later from the Caribbean.

Pies Anyone?
And our delicious must have pies - pumpkin, pecan, apple - could not have been present at the original feast as there was no version of the modern day oven. This was introduced later around 1735 with Francois de Cuvillies's Castrol stove. And unfortunately the flour and butter needed for any pastry dough or crust were absent. So what did they have for dessert? Word is that the settlers became creative, scooping out pumpkin gourds and filling them with milk, honey, and spices, and roasting them to make a nice, warm custard. Sounds delish!

A Turkey Tom? Gobble Gobble
Yes, there is good news, there was turkey, rejoice! (or at least various fowl were served, which legitimizes the use of our present day main dish)

Cranberries, and da sauce
Were there cranberries? For sure. But was there cranberry sauce? Ehhh, probably not. Records indicate that it wasn't until about fifty years later that an Englishman came up with the concept of boiling the cranberries to make a complimentary sauce for their fowl.

And what about that stuffing?
Yes, they did stuff their bird(s). But the common bread stuffing we use today was not the stuffing of the pilgrims. Without bread, their stuffing comprised mostly of herbs and vegetables, namely onions.

Such deep roots...
No, there weren't potatoes, but there were indeed many other root vegetables available, grown, and harvested at the time such as carrots, onions, garlic, and turnips. These were fire roasted and celebrated.

Was corn present and abundant? Absolutely. But it was typically cut and crushed into a cornmeal and served more as a mushy corn or porridge. The concept of eating corn off the cob was not yet in play.

And seafood??
Yes, seafood. It was readily available! So if you feel like adding lobster, clams, oysters, or mussels to your Thanksgiving meal - totally justified. You are only paying homage to the first Thanksgiving feast...

Information courtesy of the History Channel and the Smithsonian Museum