If you are worried about having a traditional Thanksgiving feast–fuggeddiboudit. You really don’t want to have to prepare and eat what the Pilgrim fathers ate.
Although I have seen sources that say they did not have turkey, William Bradford specifically mentions turkey in the 2nd quote below. We know they had venison and waterfowl and no doubt plenty of fish and shellfish.
Edward Winslow wrote:
Hot rolls? Nope. No wheat. Maybe some Indian Bread made from their “Indian Corn”.
William Bradford wrote:
Mashed Potatoes? Nope. They had not made their way up form South America yet.
Cranberry sauce? Nope. It requires sugar. They had brought some with them, but their stock had not been replenished. Maybe their Wampanoag Indian guests showed them how to make and eat pemmican–which contained cranberries, and with meat it also would have been a stand in for mincemeat. But they would have a plenty of fruit.
Cabbage and wild spinach grew in the area, but the greens may have frozen out by then. They no doubt grew some garden vegetables from seeds brought from home such as carrots, parsnips, etc. They probably grew beans and kept them stored, so they could have had a pot of beans.
Pumpkin could well have been on the menu–just not a sweetened flour-crust pie.
William Hilton, who arrived on the Fortune shortly after that Thanksgiving feast [as did my ancestor William Bassett], gives us a picture of what foods were available, including wild grapes and berries.
All these quotations were found at the Pilgrim Hall Museum site.
The citations for the letters are as follow:
- Narrative of William Bradford
Writing in Of Plymouth Plantation
- The letter of William Hilton, passenger on the Fortune
(November of 1621)
From Alexander Young’s Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers
Boston:Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1841
- Letter of Edward Winslow
Writing in Mourt’s Relations