Guest Post: The First Thanksgiving Menu

The following is a guest post.

As everyone who ever attended an American elementary school knows, what is called The First Thanksgiving was celebrated at Plymouth, Massachusetts, by the Pilgrims in 1621. Nearly half the Mayflower company, some of my ancestors among them, died during the first terrible winter of 1620-1621. Some died without ever having set foot on the ground, while the Mayflower was anchored in the harbor.

By autumn 1621 the survivors of that year of sickness and scarcity, including my ancestors John and Elizabeth Howland, had a successful harvest to celebrate, as was the English custom. The abundant harvest allowed for a three-day feast with some 90 Wampanoags joining the 53 Mayflower Pilgrims.

The menu is said to have possibly included clams, oysters, lobsters, fish, waterfowl, wild turkeys, rabbits, venison, beans, squash, turnips, carrots, salad, wild grapes, hasty pudding, thin cakes of bread or manchets, and popcorn. Sorry, no potatoes or sweet potatoes, no bread stuffing! There was likely nothing but water to drink, as they had not had sufficient time to brew beer or ale.

I used to romanticize the past, but I’ve gone soft! Aren’t you thankful for your stove, oven, refrigerator, freezer, electricity, sink, faucet, running water, indoor plumbing, farmers markets and grocery stores?

Jean at Delightful Repast is a freelance writer who writes mostly about food, tea, weddings and etiquette for numerous publications. A lifelong tea aficionado, Jean has proposed being The Resident Tea Snob at Smitten by Britain. Read her guest posts here.