In America, Thanksgiving is all about the turkey. And, rightfully so. I mean, who doesn’t love a moist, great tasting turkey. However, there’s no certainty that the turkey being served on Thanksgiving started with the pilgrims. Let’s look at what their meal might have consisted of and where the turkey falls on to the plate. To read the story of the first thanksgiving, click here.
What we do know is that the Pilgrims had just yielded their first crop of corn, so that had to play a major role in their menu. Yet, no official record is given of their exact menu. However, Edward Winslow did share some details in his journal.
According to Winslow, the Wampanoag tribe brought five deer with them. Also, he writes about the governor sending four men on a “fowling” mission, though no specific mention of a turkey. This could have been duck, geese, or other types of bird.
Historians have suggested that, since the Indians had taught them to hunt and grow crops then they most likely taught them to cook. This would mean that many of the items served would have consisted of Native America spices and cooking methods. One thing that is sure is that their supply of sugar would have dwindled by this point, so it is unlikely that there were any pies, cakes, or other desserts served.
So, where does the turkey come in to play? There are many suggestions on this, and it is possible that turkey was part of the fowling mission spoke of in Winslow’s journal, though unlikely. Yet, it is evident that Turkey would quickly become part of the meal in later days of thanksgiving.
Alexander Hamilton once stated “No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” However, since it wasn’t a widely celebrated holiday, this notion wasn’t popular. That all changed when the Christmas Carol was published in 1843. In it, Scrooge humbly sends the Cratchit family a Christmas Turkey. With the publication reaching popularity around the time President Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving, it is likely the cause of us having Turkey during the holidays.
Regardless of the reason, I am extremely thankful for the turkey, as well as the fact that my sugar supply isn’t low, so I can whip up as many tasty desserts as I want. What are you thankful for this week? Let us know in the comments below.
Need some good recipes? Go here to find some of my family’s favorite.