7 Foods the Pilgrims Ate at the First Thanksgiving ...

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COMMENT

In my family turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie are essential for the Thanksgiving meal, and, while these are typical holiday foods for most people, some of the foods the pilgrims ate at the First Thanksgiving would have been very different. Sugar was very expensive and potatoes had not made their way to North America yet, which would have meant no pumpkin pie and no mashed potatoes. That being said, some of the foods the pilgrims ate are very similar to people currently eat at Thanksgiving.

1. Wild Fowl

Wild Fowl

While turkey is the current star of the Thanksgiving table, the pilgrims would have had duck in addition to wild turkey. These wild birds were a welcome part of the harvest feast, and according to the governor of Plymouth County, William Bradford, โ€œthere was [a] great store of wild turkeysโ€ in the fall of 1621. Wild fowl was just one of the foods the pilgrims ate at the First Thanksgiving.

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2. Seafood

Seafood

When was the last time you had seafood for your Thanksgiving meal? I know it has never made an appearance on my familyโ€™s Thanksgiving table. Seafood like eels and shellfish may seem like odd foods to include in a Thanksgiving meal, but since seafood is something the pilgrims had access to, it would have been only natural for them to include it in their harvest meal.

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3. Venison

Venison

In 1621 the Native Americans โ€œwent out and killed five deerโ€ for the harvest meal. This was meant as a goodwill gesture, and, as a result, venison was an important part of the First Thanksgiving. The pilgrims had an abundant amount of venison, and probably welcomed having the protein at their Thanksgiving table.

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4. Cranberries

Cranberries

Cranberry sauce or jelly is traditionally included at Thanksgiving meals today. While cranberries were probably one of the foods the pilgrims ate, they would not have been sweetened like todayโ€™s cranberries. Instead, they would have been eaten to add tartness to some of the dishes. So, even though cranberries may have been present at the First Thanksgiving, they would have had a minimal role in the meal.

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5. Corn

Corn

Corn soufflรฉ is a dish that must be present at my familyโ€™s Thanksgiving, and if it is not there, the meal just doesnโ€™t seem complete. While the pilgrims would not have indulged in corn soufflรฉ, they did eat corn bread or porridge at the First Thanksgiving. Corn bread doesnโ€™t sound out of the ordinary; however, corn porridge is a little unusual. Yet, considering that potatoes hadnโ€™t found their way to North America in 1621, the corn porridge would have been a great substitute for mashed potatoes.

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6. Pumpkin

Pumpkin

Pumpkin pie is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. In fact, I love it so much that I often ate pumpkin pie for breakfast when I was little. The pilgrims would not have eaten pumpkin pie, but pumpkin and other varieties of squash would most certainly have been eaten at the harvest celebration.

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7. Beans

Beans

Aside from green bean casserole, beans are not a typical part of Thanksgiving meals. Yet, they would have been a part of the First Thanksgiving meal. Beans were one of the staple crops, along with corn and squash, that the pilgrims grew. Therefore, the pilgrims certainly would not have left beans out of the harvest meal.

From the beginning, Thanksgiving has been about celebrating food, family, and friends. Even though the pilgrims may have eaten food that is not typically part of Thanksgiving meals today, they still ate many foods that are an important part of Thanksgiving dinner for many people. What is your favorite food to eat at Thanksgiving?

smithsonianmag.com, delish.com
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