It is Thanksgiving Day at my house. In between the making of all the “fixin’s” and the arrival of the guests, I decided to do a little research as to how this day came about and what might have really been served for dinner.
The “traditional” meal includes roasted turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. This holiday feast originated in November 1621. The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered together to celebrate a bountiful harvest and new friends. This gathering is regarded as our “first Thanksgiving.” However, is wasn’t a national holiday until much later. In 1846, Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor of the Godley’s Lady’s Book magazine, campaigned for an annual national holiday of thanksgiving after discovering some writing mentioned the gathering of 1621. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared two national Thanksgivings: one in August commemorated the Battle of Gettysburg, one in November to give thanks for general blessings.
As far as those “first thanksgiving” food… the menu would have been somewhat simple. Turkey was plentiful in the region, as were ducks, geese, and swans. These tasty fowl were not stuffed with a bread stuffing. They were stuffed with herbs, onions or nuts for added flavor. Deer meat would have been served as well, most likely in a hearty stew. Since they were on the coast, this meal would have also included seafood: mussels, lobster, bass, clams, and oysters.
It wasn’t all about the meat. Remember, this celebration was a celebration of the harvest, not the hunt. Local vegetables such as onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, and corn would have been on the table. Fruits that grew in the area included blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries, and, of course cranberries, would have been a part of this meal. Believe it or not, potatoes did not make it to the table!
The people of New England did eat pumpkins and other squashes. However, flour and butter were scarce so they were not making pies. They were able to pour milk and spices into the hollowed out shells of the squash and roasted them in the coals. The result was a little like a pumpkin pudding.
Well… I didn’t go nuts with the meats. We did bake a turkey for the family to eat. We baked a couple pies for the family as well. However, I made some wonderful vegetarian dishes that truly celebrate the “harvest.”
I wanted something fancy. I just didn’t want my plate to look like salad and cooked salad. LOL.
I made Wendy’s Chopped Detox Salad
I made Brussel Sprouts with Corn
and for desert I made Sugar Free Cranberry Tart/ Cranberry Sauce