It’s slowly approaching that time of the year again where Americans need to have a special holiday every few weeks or so. First up in that list is Thanksgiving, a holiday that revolves around quite literally being thankful for what you have. It’s a sentiment more people should embrace, and certainly a message I can get behind. But are we celebrating it the right way?
The biggest thing with Thanksgiving is the huge meals. Since the very first Thanksgiving goes back to all the way in 1621 and it was tied to the first successful harvest in the “New World” as they called it back then, having copious amounts of food kind of makes sense. So far, so good. No use celebrating a harvest if you can’t eat yourself cross-eyed, right?
According to documents that somehow reference this lovely first Thanksgiving meal, there’s some very specific foods they ate that if we’re being entirely honest don’t quite fit the bill of our standard turkey dishes. First of all: the things we know for sure. The big harvest consisted of freshly killed deer, wildfowl, cod, bass and a native corn called flint. Honestly, I already like this more than turkey.
Then there’s things we can piece together based on some educated guesses. While we know turkey probably wasn’t on the menu on that first Thanksgiving, it’s safe to assume some duck or geese made it to the table. Back then they stuffed them with onions and nuts. Seafood is also a given, since in those days the sea was still plentiful with fish. Think lobster and eel, for example.
And they even had veggies too. This is probably the easiest to be sure of since we know which kind of crops grew on American soil back in the 17th century. Most likely the lovely meat and fish was combined with peas, beans, squash and corn. Some vegetables brought over from England like carrots and cabbage would’ve made the dinner table too.
That’s right: no potatoes. No gravy. No cranberry sauce. So when you’re having Thanksgiving dinner this year, maybe take some time to be extra thankful for all the culinary advances we’ve made since then that lifted this meal up several levels and turned it into a feast worthy of celebrating. And maybe get yourself an extra serving of gravy, just because you can.