Good Morning! What do you think of when you think Turkey Day? I've been searching the web and the vast archives of museums and libraries in search of a vintage image...and here you go.
We all learned the Native Americans celebrated Thanksgiving with pilgrims in New England in the 1600s, but this year marks the 150th anniversary of Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday. In 1863, right in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the last Thursday of November would be a day to celebrate “the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” as well as the soldiers and their families.
You could probably have guessed that the modern Turkey Day feast—Butterball birds, mashed potatoes, gravy, et al—was not what was served at the original feast, and that these “traditions” have been morphing for decades. According to Edward Winslow, an English leader who attended that first meal, there were various types of fowl (most likely geese and ducks) and venison. Governor William Bradford, another pilgrim, also mentions wild turkey, as well as Indian corn. igeons—as Foodways Culinarian Kathleen Wall explains, “Passenger pigeons—extinct in the wild for over a century now—were so thick in the 1620s, they said you could hear them a quarter-hour before you saw them. They say a man could shoot at the birds in flight and bring down 200.”
Pumpkins and squash were also native to New England, though today’s familiar pumpkin pie would not have been present. According to Plimoth Plantation, “The earliest written pumpkin pie recipes are dated after the First Thanksgiving, and they treat the pumpkin more like apples, slicing it and sometimes frying the slices before placing them in a crust.”
Linda Coombs, an Aquinnah Wampanoag and director of the Wampanoag Center for Bicultural History at Plimoth Plantation, guesses they ate "sobaheg," a Wampanoag favorite: a stewed mix of corn, roots, beans, squash and various meats. Plus the easy-to-gather local food: clams, lobsters, cod, eels, onions, turnips and greens from spinach to chard.
So how did turkey get to be the Thanksgiving bird?
Two hundred fifty years after the original Thanksgiving dinner, one of the hottest cookbooks in America, a collection of recipes from Ohio housewives called the Buckeye Cookerie, suggested a bunch of 'traditional' Thanksgiving dinners, and many of them, says Beahrs, ignored the turkey:
[Buckeye Cookerie] suggested oyster soup, boiled cod, corned beef, and roasted goose as good Thanksgiving choices, accompanied by brown bread, pork and beans, 'delicate cabbage,' doughnuts, 'superior biscuit,' ginger cakes, and an array of fruits. Chicken pies were a particular favorite and seem to have been served nearly as often as turkey (usually as an additional dish rather than a substitute).
We Americans have adapted and adopted many of our own Traditions and have been adding different types of our favorite foods for centuries.
PLEASE share some of your favorite Holiday Traditions and give our readers some of YOUR ideas so we may continue some of the Old and Many NEW Recipes and ideas to come! This is why America is the Melting pot! Ever changing, ever adapting, ever great!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING & MANY BLESSINGS TO YOU & YOURS!
Some comments and facts taken from Krulrich Wonders....and NY Historical Society.