The First Thanksgiving Menu

by Steven Doyle

As our day of Thanksgiving fast approaches we wanted to look back and see why and how our Pilgrim ancestors celebrated their feast.

What began in 1620 with a band of 102 religious separatists seeking a new home and the lure of the New World’s prosperity, the Pilgrims settled into their new life style, which proved harsh throughout their first brutal Cape Cod winter.  

In November of 1621 the governor William Bradford organized the very first feast to celebrate a successful corn harvest and invited several native American allies including Wampanoag chief Massasoit. The Wampanoag’s arrived with five deer and Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission.

Because of the lack of sugar and baking methods, there were no pies at the first dinner. Potatoes and bread would not be on the menu as well. What you would have seen was more than likely native fruits like plums, melons, grapes, and cranberries, plus local vegetables such as leeks, wild onions, beans, Jerusalem artichokes, and squash.  Seafood such as fish and shellfish were also offered on the menu that day.

Barley was grown the first year the colonists settled so it is likely that there was plenty of beer or ale. They also enjoyed cider, but that would not be available for a few years. The first apple orchard on the North American continent was said to be near Boston in 1625.

For the most authentic Thanksgiving meal this year, invite your guests to enjoy Seethed Mussels with Parsley and Vinegar, Stewed Turkey with Herbs and Onions, Stewed Pumpkin, and Sweet Pudding of Indian Corn. If these items do not appeal to you, check out our list of Thanksgiving offerings in the Dallas area and make your reservations soon.

3 Comments

Filed under Crave, Dallas, fun with food, Party!, Steven Doyle, Thanksgiving

3 responses to “The First Thanksgiving Menu

  1. i’ve always read there there was fowl, but most likely not turkey, but pheasant or swan.

    • I have seen references to the gobbler in several books including Nathaniel Philbrick’s ‘Mayflower’ and Kathleen Curtin’s (food historian) ‘Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History from the Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie’.

      The seafood references suggest eels, cod and bass, and shellfish including oysters, clams and lobster. This is what I would prefer!

  2. Swans?!! Difficult to think of eating a swan, though I’m not quite sure why…

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