Today in America is Thanksgiving. Though much of the folklore is myth, this tradition dates back to 1620, when the first Pilgrims landed at what is now called Plymouth Rock, where those that survived treacherously arrived by boat from England to escape religious persecution.
Here's the actual scoop on what was and what wasn't part of the Pilgrim's thankful tables:
1. Foods Available to the Pilgrims for their 1621 Thanksgiving:
FISH: cod, bass, herring, shad, bluefish, and lots of eel.
SEAFOOD: clams, lobsters, mussels, and very small quantities of oysters
BIRDS: wild turkey, goose, duck, crane, swan, partridge, and other miscellaneous waterfowl; they were also known to have occasionally eaten eagles (which "tasted like mutton" according to Winslow in 1623.)
OTHER MEAT: venison (deer), possibly some salt pork or chicken.
GRAIN: wheat flour, Indian corn and corn meal; barley (mainly for beer-making).
FRUITS: raspberries, strawberries, grapes, plums, cherries, blueberries, gooseberries (these would have been dried, as none would have been in season).
VEGETABLES: small quantity of peas, squashes (including pumpkins), beans
NUTS: walnuts, chestnuts, acorns, hickory nuts, ground nuts
HERBS and SEASONINGS: onions, leeks, strawberry leaves, currants, sorrel, yarrow, carvel, brooklime, liverwort, watercress, and flax; from England they brought seeds and probably planted radishes, lettuce, carrots, onions, and cabbage. Olive oil in small quantities may have been brought over, though the Pilgrims had to sell most of their oil and butter before sailing, in order to stay on budget.
OTHER: maple syrup, honey; small quantities of butter, Holland cheese; and eggs.
2. Some perhaps startling omissions from the authentic Thanksgiving menu
Ham. (The Pilgrims most likely did not have pigs with them).
Sweet Potatoes-Potatoes-Yams. (These had not yet been introduced to New England).
Corn on the cob. (Indian corn was only good for making cornmeal, not eating on the cob).
Popcorn. (Contrary to popular folklore, popcorn was not introduced at the 1621 Thanksgiving. Indian corn could only be half-popped, and this wouldn't have tasted very good.)
Cranberry sauce. (Cranberries were available, but sugar was not.)
Pumpkin Pie: (They probably made a pumpkin pudding of sorts, sweetened by honey or syrup, which would be like the filling of a pumpkin pie, but there would be no crust or whipped topping.)
3. Here at # 9, mist and fog lingered all day. The snow earlier in the week has mostly melted, and almost every store and business was closed shut. It's a quiet day, all in all. By choice our Thanksgiving was exactly that.
4. jb's colleagues sent her a small lamp in memory of her mother's death. We've set it on the front table, along with the beautiful plant our friend dropped off, and today we have set up a small shrine. If you look closely, you will also see Birdie and Frank the Dinosaur, which somehow is fitting.
5. I started the fire early this morning and it's been going all day. Nothing better....
7. Our menu today was roast beef, roasted potatoes, creamed onions, green beans and carrots. And gravy. I have finally learned to make decent gravy.
8. This is the smallest Thanksgiving table I've ever sat at: three of us. And yet, I'm relieved it was so simple and easy-going.
9. Here's a major reason for my motivation to keep it simple: the drama of getting my knee surgery in place and approved by insurance is almost over. Surgery will take place in eight days, a week from Friday. Not a day too soon. It's been a bear.
10. I can't say this has been an easy going time, so I won't. But I am aware of many many things to give thanks for. The first: three women who make my life worth living, make me laugh, bring me joy, and would take the same bullet for me I would for them. They know who they are....
11. And two men: one loves my daughter so much I will be forever grateful to him, and the other--well, the other is Mr. Ryan.
12. The Sky: I often look up at the blue blue sky and I am just totally amazed at the beauty of the Earth. How can this be anything but a miracle?
13. Words: I not only have words and more words in my life these days, but I also have people in my life who love words as much as I do. And colors. I have Colors and Words. And for that I am deeply thankful.
HAPPY GIVING-THANKS DAY