Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Original Thanksgiving, Pilgrim-Style

I don't even have to wonder what the first Thanksgiving feast was like. Guinea Pig Diaries author A.J. Jacobs has found out for us! It had no factory-processed turkeys, and was probably held in September or October. And the Wampanoag came on their own. And instead of sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, there were turnips, deer, lobster and eel, as Jacobs notes:

The lobster, boiled in red-wine vinegar, was a big hit. Although our lobsters are shrimpy compared to those of 1621, when the crustaceans commonly weighed 20 pounds and had claws the size of a human arm.

As for deer, a friend had venison in his freezer. (Bonus: He’s a descendant of Miles Standish!) We cooked it in a stew thickened with ground walnuts to mixed reviews. Next up were grits, turnips and a boiled salad (yes, boiled) of spinach and currants.

We saved the eel for last, boiled in white wine and sprinkled with fennel seed. But maybe I should have called the Butterball Eel Hotline, because it was downright nasty—a mix of rubbery eel flesh and hard bone. As my friend Shannon said, “My gag reflex is getting quite a workout.”
Why does strike me as fodder for his next book?

This can only help me in my next Food Ethnography post, which will have something to do with the first Thanksgiving - either what the Pilgrims ate or what the indigenous peoples of Eastern North America were already eating before that.


Jim said...

Boiled Eel? Pass. The lobster in wine vinegar could be good. I wonder if they needed event insurance since it was out doors on borrowed land. Hmmmm.

John said...

But it wasn't outdoors - Jacobs decided to hold his Thanksgiviing in his apartment. He wrote how the fire department came to investigate all the smoke from the wood fire they built up in their fireplace. After that, he gave up and used the stove.

HowChow said...

Off-topic, but you have a won an award!

Wendi at the Bon Appetit Hon blog has tried to start a cheeky little wave of blogs passing on kudos to each other. Wendi created her own blog awards -- the It's A Major Award!, which she promptly awarded to HowChow.

Wendi's inspiration is that her seven blogs were supposed to award blogs of their own. And so on. And so on. Think of a chain letter of compliments without the threats of bad luck. It's just fun, and I thought of you.

Check out these pages:

Hope you'll be amused enough to award a few blogs that you like.

John said...

Hmmm, I'll have to take that on later today!