By Arritta Morris
I have done some research on what our forefathers actually ate on the first Thanksgiving in America. This is probably what happened.
Ten months after their arrival at Plymouth, the pilgrims had built seven houses, a common meeting place and three storage houses for supplies and food from their harvest. They had much to be thankful for after barely surviving the winters.
Having meat on your table in 1621 meant shooting it yourself. Ducks were probably the main course. Waterfowl were plentiful in the Massachusetts Bay area.
The Pilgrim women would have roasted the freshly plucked ducks over the fire. The children pitched in by making corn into a mush, a kind of cornmeal.
They would not have survived without the assistance of the native Wampanoag people and a strong leader of this tribe named Massasoit. The meaning of his title was “Great Sachem.” It was fitting that the pilgrims asked this tribe to join them in their feast.
The Wampanoag people gave as a gift to the Pilgrims deer they had hunted.
From my research I discovered that turkey was never mentioned in the recorded history of this event.
Other items consumed included seafood, cabbage, onions, corn and squash. Cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes were not even ideas then.
The big meal was not actually a hugh sit-down affair. This feast was celebrated for almost a week, both inside the homes as well as outdoors.
Relatives were invited but because the homes were so small, the Wampanoag tribe had to build their own shelters. It was too far for them to walk back and forth between each day of feasting.
For several days, the children played games with the Indians.
How do our customs compare?
If we have company coming, we gripe about having to clean house, buy groceries and put up with annoying relatives.
Who wants to eat duck? Got to go to the sales and get the best buy on a turkey.
Cook over an open fire? Forget that. Microwave, microwave.
We forget the homeless and less fortunate at times. Who wants someone in our home we do not know?
No deer please. Can’t stand to clean it, cook it and smell the odor in the house.
We have to have turkey or it would not be Thanksgiving.
Who would want to dig up root vegetables and cook all day? Give me the canned stuff.
Not a week of this stuff. One day and one hour is all we can stand.
Tell the relatives and guest to get a motel.
No one walks to a feast. Got to have wheels.
Kids playing together? No way. Give them electronics to keep the quiet.
Be quiet. We’re trying to watch the football game.
Could we have survived the first Thanksgiving?
If you can, at least give some food to your local food bank this time of year to give someone who is down on their luck at least one good meal.
Did you find yourself in the list above? I know I did.
Arritta Morris holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a master’s degree in counseling from Eastern Kentucky University. She is certified as a food service specialist by the School Nutrition Association.