historical thanksgiving feast

A Historical Thanksgiving Feast

historical thanksgiving feast

This year we are planning on preparing a historical Thanksgiving Feast. We aren’t learning about pilgrims in school right now, but that’s the way I run this school–I don’t like to miss opportunities to learn. 🙂

At any rate, we’ve been looking up information online and I’ve found this article on the History Channel’s website to be quite informative and helpful:

Oooh, this is going to be so much fun! No forks! 😀 Sorry, I got a little giddy for a second. Although, I must say that I’m gonna have to put a lot of thought into the menu since I don’t eat a lot of stuff on this list:

The Pilgrims’ Menu

Foods That May Have Been on the Menu

  • Seafood: Cod, Eel, Clams, Lobster
  • Wild Fowl: Wild Turkey, Goose, Duck, Crane, Swan, Partridge, Eagles
  • Meat: Venison, Seal
  • Grain: Wheat Flour, Indian Corn
  • Vegetables: Pumpkin, Peas, Beans, Onions, Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots
  • Fruit: Plums, Grapes
  • Nuts: Walnuts, Chestnuts, Acorns
  • Herbs and Seasonings: Olive Oil, Liverwort, Leeks, Dried Currants, Parsnips

What Was Not on the Menu
Surprisingly, the following foods, all considered staples of the modern Thanksgiving meal, didn’t appear on the pilgrims’s first feast table:

  • Ham: There is no evidence that the colonists had butchered a pig by this time, though they had brought pigs with them from England.
  • Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes: These were not common.
  • Corn on the Cob: Corn was kept dried out at this time of year.
  • Cranberry Sauce: The colonists had cranberries but no sugar at this time.
  • Pumpkin Pie: It’s not a recipe that exists at this point, though the pilgrims had recipes for stewed pumpkin.
  • Chicken/Eggs: We know that the colonists brought hens with them from England, but it’s unknown how many they had left at this point or whether the hens were still laying.
  • Milk: No cows had been aboard the Mayflower, though it’s possible that the colonists used goat milk to make cheese.

So, bearing that in mind… I’m willing to make two concessions. My husband would not be happy if there were no mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie. I’ll agree to make them, they’ll just stay in the kitchen and not on the table — “If you want them, they’re in there. ” 🙂 And I’m kind of disappointed there’s no ham or corn on the cob, but I can survive.

Our Historical Thanksgiving Feast Menu:

  • Meat: Definitely a turkey. Possibly duck, cooked in a rotisserie?
  • Vegetables: Squash, beans, peas
  • Breads: cornbread, cornbread dressing
  • Extras: dried fruits and nuts, fresh grapes
  • Illegals: 😉 The mashed potatoes, and the pumpkin pie.

Mmm. Yummy.

We’ll also wash our hands, eat with our fingers and probably drink sparkling grape juice or something like that. How’s that for a feast? Any tips or suggestions? I’m interested to hear if anyone else has done anything like this before.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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November 18, 2006 10:12 am

That is very cool that you are going to do a traditional menu and use that to teach your kids about the first Thanksgiving! I really like that idea, it sounds like so much fun!! Alicia gave Trevor and Zoe a “Thanksliving Treasure Chest” for their birthdays and it is so cool. I dont know if you have one of these or not (I am probably going to post about this), but it is put out by Family Life, and it is 6 devotionals leading up to Thanksgiving. It tells the whole story of the pilgrims and God’s hand and… Read more »

November 18, 2006 2:01 pm

Probably because Dennis and Barbara Rainey are two of the main Family Life ministry people.

November 18, 2006 2:12 pm

I did a quick search and it looks like it is completely sold out right now. It is n/a on the familylife web site, and also n/a on amazon and ebay. I cant find any of them! But I looked on the box and it is made by Dennis Rainey of Family Life Today.

Crafty Mama
Crafty Mama
November 20, 2006 9:49 am

That’s a really great idea. We go to my husband’s parent’s house for Thanksgiving, but maybe we will try this some year.

Pass the Torch
Pass the Torch
November 25, 2006 9:07 pm

This sounds fantastic!!! I’m so impressed – what a great way to teach your kids about history.

I think I need to read more about the Well Trained Mind. I’ve been seeing it a lot in the blogging community.

Thanks for stopping by my site!

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