As we’ve seen, according to
James and Patricia Scott Deetz,
authors of The Times of Their Lives;
Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth
Colony (2000), the food served
at that now famous feast in the
fall of 1621 was perhaps not quite
what we’ve been taught to believe.
In fact, they state it rather bluntly:
Ducks, geese, and venison are
the three things of which we
are absolutely certain.
The Deetzes are also firmly convinced that two other
traditional dishes were absent on that day: cranberry
sauce and pumpkin pie. They say that the latter didn’t
“come along until much later,” and the former just
wasn’t eaten (although, like turkeys, the berries
were abundant). On a personal level, however,
there may’ve not been any pumpkin pie, per se,
but having made a few pumpkin and squash puddings,
I’d say, well…not necessarily. The make-up of the
two are similar enough that it could have, possibly,
been on the feast’s roster. It would’ve appeared in
a different form, though, as it would’ve been boiled,
and not baked, with no paste (crust), just like many
other puddings of that time. I imagine the early female
colonists knew how to knock out some killer puddings!
In any event, back to the two Deetz authors. What
else do they think might have been served during that
feast of long ago? Once again, they look to what was
mentioned by colonist Edward Winslow in that letter he
sent to a friend back in England in December, 1621. Thus
their list of “more than likely foods” include the following:
–various kinds of fish, including eels, mussels (but, surprisingly,
not oysters as “we have none near,” but they could be “brought by the Indians” upon request), and lobster;
–wheat and maize (corn);
–sallet (salad) herbs;
–fruit such as grapes, strawberries, raspberries, plums;
–beer, wine, and possibly, spirits.
Not your typical Thanksgiving meal. Yet, it sounds pretty decent, yes?
Next: the people and purpose of the fall 1621 feast