Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday 13: Thanks-giving

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....

6. This house is so damn comfortable. I don't quite know why.

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.



  1. What a beautiful little giving-thanks table you set! Those Pilgrim facts were very cool to read ... our dinner was out of this world (thank you, Eli) and the table looked beautiful, especially when we all sat around it. Now we're relaxed, it's quiet, and I'm feeling full in a lot of ways. I wish the same for you, too, my friend. And Hooray for the surgery!!

  2. I really enjoyed staring at your fire-it's just what I needed. Yay for the surgery-onward ho and all that.

  3. Your house does look very comfortable. Am glad you've got your surgery sorted out.

    Happy Thanksgiving kj! :D

  4. I really enjoyed your post KJ and it also had a very warm and comfortable feeling :)

    OH! Now I know you are having a 'knee arthroscopy' I can tell you I've had two and you will be FINE!

    Thanks for being a friend KJ :)

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, KJ! Your living room is GORGEOUS! I love the angled couch.

  6. melissa, i've thought of you today. happy thanksgiving, my good friend.

    debra kay, so happy to provide a vicarious fire for you!

    mench, thanks, it's always nice to see your avatar here.

    anon, your comment is reciprocated. thank you for being a friend too. last night out of the blue jb asked me if i wanted to visit australia. the first thing I thought was "anon!"

    val, thanks. there are two of those couches. very 1950's...

  7. You did remember that I'd drown myself before any blogger landed on my doorstep didn't you KJ? Hhehhee

  8. Here in the Netherlands we don't have Thanksgiving. It is a real American feast. Therefore I enjoyed this post so much, because you told the background and how you feel about it. It is good that your knee is done at last. I hope you will soon walk 'als een kievit' (like a pewit) as we say here. Your house is very cosy.

  9. What a beautiful post and that yellow living room is pure sunshine!

  10. Sounds like you had a wonderfully restful and cozy holiday. That's great. Some stress free time at your place must've been very soothing. Sounds nice.

  11. anon, who said anything about landing on your doorstep? hhehhee

    wieneke, and speaking of doorsteps, i am still visualizing our apple pie project... :)

    ces, sunshine in the midst of rain sometimes...

  12. rm, you snuck in as i'm typing! i hope your day was pleasant. generally, while i love them, the holidays aren't the easiest for me. i do my best to make them as cozy as i can..

  13. Sounds like the perfect holiday! I enjoyed seeing this!

  14. A late happy thanksgiving day.
    Love the way you approach things.
    Hope the knee surgery goes well!