festive-food-1388406500q51There’s no better way to connect with our founding fathers than to cook and taste the very recipes they enjoyed. When the Pilgrims and the Native Americans had their first Thanksgiving feast in 1621, they didn’t have mashed potatoes, sweet potato casseroles, pumpkin pies, or cranberry sauce.

In fact, potatoes had yet to be introduced to North America, butter and wheat flour for pie-crusts weren’t available, and cranberry sauce simply didn’t exist back then.

The Thanksgiving food we know today is nothing like what the 53 surviving Pilgrims and over 90 Native Americans hunted, harvested, prepared, and served at the famous meal 391 years ago. Their pickings were much slimmer, but they managed to create a beautiful feast that left them satis- fied and full. Even though no one knows the complete dinner menu, historians are certain that the Pilgrims and the Native Americans enjoyed wildfowl (goose, duck, swan, passenger pigeon, wild turkey), venison, porridge and corn bread.

You’d be surprised to learn that turkey was not the centerpiece of the meal. Instead, goose or duck was the main course. The smaller birds were spit roasted while the

larger birds were boiled. Historians suspect that some birds were boiled first, and then roasted, and others were roasted first, and then boiled. Also, the Pilgrims stuffed the birds with shelled chestnuts or onions and herbs. Historians, although uncertain, believe that the Pilgrims and the Native Americans also had eels, yes eels! In addition to lobster, clams,

mussels, chestnuts, walnuts, beech- nuts, hickory nuts, multi-colored Indian corn, pumpkins, squashes, onions, dried beans and peas, lettuces, spinach and radishes.

The Pilgrims brought pigs, chickens, and goats with them to America, but historians can’t figure out how many of these animals were left after the first winter. If hens or goats were still around, the

Pilgrims probably included eggs or cheese in the first Thanksgiving feast. The Pilgrims and the Native Americans were believed to have seasoned their dishes with salt, cinnamon, ginger, leeks, pepper, and nutmeg.

A lot has changed since our founding fathers first celebrated the harvest in the New World. If you want to try something different with your friends and family, choose a Thanksgiving recipe below, one that the Pilgrims and the Native Americans enjoyed on that very first Thanksgiving feast!

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