Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Do You Mean--No Turkey?

The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days and contrary to popular belief, there was no turkey present. Man oh man, I hate being the one to dispel this long-held myth--but hey, it's time the truth be told.

So here's the REAL story. The fifty-six pilgrims who had managed to stay alive through the first terrible winter in the new country and the ninety-one Indians who had helped them survive, all sat down to celebrate autumn's bountiful harvest.

Now here's where the story gets strange. They mostly ate with their hands for they had no forks. Every last bite of food was set on a long table and people ate only what sat in front of them. Nothing was passed around the table. The best food was put in front of the most important people and guess who waited on everyone? The kids. How's that for a shocker?

No children at the first Thanksgiving table. Not even a little table stuck under some lone tree a short distance away. Most of you know what I'm talking about. What kid hasn't lived through that scenario?

So what do you suppose those pilgrims ate if there was no turkey? History records they consumed fish, seafood, goose, duck, partridge, venison, Indian corn, barley, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, plums, and other wild fruits, walnuts, chestnuts, and peas, squash, and beans. Seasonings consisted of onion, and assorted wild plants with strange names. Not the things in my spice rack, that's for sure.

If I had faced near starvation, I would have been grateful for that food and eaten every morsel. Yet somewhere down through history, obviously when times got better, somebody tweaked the menu. Good thing too. Otherwise we'd be calling the last Thursday in November "Duck Day" or "Fish Day" or "Goose Day." Doesn't have the same ring as Turkey Day. Right?

When it came to desserts, the Pilgrims had two choices: aeppel or pompion. Oops. Sorry. I used the names the early settlers would have used. You know what else? There were NO pies of any kind at the first Thanksgiving because there were no ovens to bake them in.

The only native trees sporting apples were crab apples, and nearly everyone knows you can't make a pie from something the size of a quarter. As for the pumpkin, the only thing the Pilgrims knew to do was hollow it out, fill it with milk, honey, and spices and set it in the hot ashes to cook.

So where did our traditional apple and pumpkin pies originate? I hate to dispel the long-held myth, but it sure it wasn't at the first Thanksgiving. Nope, they came around about fifty years later and ever since then they've held the place of honor at our Thanksgiving table. I don't know where the tradition of piling whipped cream atop the pumpkin pie came from nor the slathering of ice cream atop the apple. That's another whole story and I'm just too lazy to figure it out.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

My love to you all,


"O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come."

Psalms 71: 17,18


  1. Great bit of history Sandy and thank you for sharing it!

  2. We also cooked a ham on Thanksgiving, along with the traditional 20 lb turkey. Both were delicious!

  3. Stopped by from the blog hop and followed you thru GFC and RSS Reader. Would love a follow back when you get the chance! Thanks! Have a great weekend!


  4. Isn't it odd how we think this is our history because we were taught this in school. But come to find out what we were taught in school wasn't true. Oh, I don't recall anyone blatantly saying Pilgrims ate turkey and pumpkin pie, but I remember the pictures.