First Thanksgiving feast very different from our modern menu


Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV)- Almost everything we know about the first Thanksgiving meal comes from one source: a letter that Plymouth plantation colonist Edward Winslow wrote in December 1621.

He wrote about a harvest feast the Pilgrims shared with the native Wampanoag people over three days in late autumn.

The meal would have looked unfamiliar to us.

Here are a few items not on that first Thanksgiving table:

  • They had no green beans so no green bean casserole. That recipe came from Campbell’s Soup in 1955, it’s way too modern.
  • No pumpkin pie for dessert or any kind of pie, for that matter.
  • The Pilgrims probably didn’t have access to many of the things needed to make pie crust.
  • You would find any gravy at the table, at least not the thickened gravy we know today.
  • Another missing ingredient: cranberry sauce.
  • There were no cranberry bogs near Plymouth Plantation, so the first Thanksgiving would have lacked the fruit, in sauce form or any form.
  • Potatoes are native to South America, and no one had yet brought them to New England, so no mashed potatoes, but then again, you don’t have gravy, either.
  • The Pilgrims had no wheat flour for baking traditional bread rolls in 1621, instead they had corn bread.
  • To a lot of people in today’s south, Thanksgiving also means macaroni and cheese. Thomas Jefferson would bring that treat to America from France many years later.
  • They had no modern type of stuffing, at least the type we make with bread. And, finally, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag had no turkey on the table, no hot, steaming Butterball.
  • Turkeys were not common game animals at that time, instead of turkey back then, pass the duck, geese, swan, and pigeon, and dig in!

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