All of us probably have a really clear image of Thanksgiving dinner: the roasted turkey, the savory stuffing, the cranberry sauce (or can-shaped cranberry log), and of course, the sweet, flaky pies. But even though this has become the standard menu of this traditional American feast,  it doesn’t really have a lot in common with the first Thanksgiving that took place in the fall of 1621.

E. Stuart Hardy | Public domain/ Wikimedia Commons

E. Stuart Hardy | Public domain/ Wikimedia Commons

How about swapping out that lovely bread stuffing for, say, cornmeal porridge? Or the pumpkin pie for some wild nuts and blueberries? Averill, Sarah and Tommy discuss the history of feasting, the food served at the first Thanksgiving, and how we got the turkey-centric meal we love today.

Sarah Josepha Hale. Painted by James Reid Lambdin (1807-1889) | Public domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Sarah Josepha Hale, painted by James Reid Lambdin (1807-1889) | Public domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Show Notes & Further Reading: 

The First Thanksgiving:

Barter, Judith A., et al. Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 2013.

Gambino, Megan. “What Was on the Menu at the First Thanksgiving?” Smithsonian Magazine. November 21, 2011.

Hale, Sarah Josepha. Northwood: A Tale of New England. Boston: Bowles & Dearborne, 1827.

Hodgson, Godfrey. A Great & Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims & the Myth of the First Thanksgiving. New York: PublicAffairs, 2006

Moniz, Amanda. “A short course on the history of Thanksgiving foods.” The Washington Post, November 22, 2013

Prendergast, Neil.  “Raising the Thanksgiving Turkey: Agroecology, Gender, and the Knowledge of Nature,” Environmental History, Vol. 16, No. 4 (October 2011), pp. 651-677.

Philbrick, Nathan. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.

Stavely, Keith & Kathleen Fitzgerald. America’s Founding Foods: The Story of New England Cooking. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Wills, Anne Blue. “Pilgrims and Progress: How Magazines Made Thanksgiving,” Church History, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Mar., 2003), pp. 138-158.

For some old cookbooks:

Adams, Adrienne. A Fifteenth Century Cookry Boke. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1962.

Scappi, Bartolomeo. The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L’arte et prudenza d’un maestro Cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook). Translated by Terence Scully. Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 2008. First published 1570 by Scappi. Digital file.

Works on feasting:

Albala, Ken. The Banquet. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

Elias, Norbert. The History of Manners. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982

Freedman, Paul. Food The History of Taste. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007

Feature Image: Jennie A. Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving (1914) | Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons 


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.