Thanksgiving Dishes of the Past Nov 22, 2018 8:35:22 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Nov 22, 2018 8:35:22 GMT -5
Thanksgiving Dishes of the Past
The best food historians are convinced turkey probably has been on Thanksgiving tables since the beginning, and it’s been remarkably constant – holding off any attempts to squeeze it off the menu. But many other historic Thanksgiving foods have come and gone from New England menus over the years as tastes change. Here are just five examples of historic Thanksgiving foods. You may be happy some of them disappeared from the holiday feast:
Lobster. Records of the first Massachusetts Thanksgiving meal in 1621 mention only that the Pilgrims ate fowl and venison. But most likely, they also ate the other traditional foods common to their diet, which included seafood such as lobster and mussels. Lobster and mussels have been mentioned in other early American Thanksgiving feasts. Of course today it’s the unusual home where someone brings out the pot to boil or steam up shellfish for Thanksgiving.
Bear. All manner of game was served at early feasts. In 1714, the Rev. Laurence Conant of Salem Village (now Danvers), Mass., recorded details of his Thanksgiving dinner with a neighbor, Mr. Epes. Bear was the centerpiece of the feast and well enjoyed, though venison was also served. The venison, it turned out, created controversy as the deer had been shot on the Sabbath. This required some consultation with Rev. Conant as to whether they could eat it. In the end, hungry stomachs won out over religious prohibitions against hunting for food on the Sabbath and they gobbled up the venison.
Pasties. In 1779, Juliana Smith of Sharon, Conn., wrote to her cousin Betsey to describe the family’s Thanksgiving meal, which included pigeon pasties. She noted her dour grandmother had argued that the American Revolution was depriving Connecticut citizens of their property. The day, therefore, really should be one of fasting and prayer, “due to the wickedness of our friends and the vileness of our enemies.” However, Juliana’s father persuaded the family to instead have a Thanksgiving feast.
Smith, who would go on to marry New York’s mayor Jacob Radcliff, outlined a sumptuous menu. She bemoaned the fact beef was not on the menu and hadn't been for three years. The army needed it all. Nevertheless, the table groaned under the weight of turkey, goose, port, venison and a wide range of vegetables. The menu also featured suet pudding, a far less common dish today, and, “two big pigeon pasties.” For those who don’t know, pasties are hand pies, something on the order of a pot pie without the tin. Apparently, such pies were larger back then.
Puffball Soup. Sarah Royer (1849-1937) was the Martha Stewart of her day. A Pennsylvania native, her cookbooks and magazines, spread far and wide, guided households toward domestic perfection. Her 1890 ideal Thanksgiving Dinner menu, published in Table Talk magazine, featured puffball soup. Puffballs belong to a family of mushrooms familiar to anyone who has spent much time walking the woods. Small ones provide a degree of entertainment when they are dry. If you crush them, they expel a small puff of smoke-like spores. But cooks dice the larger ones and simmer them into a tasty mushroom soup.
Crackers in Pudding? Fannie Farmer launched her career as a cookbook author in 1896 with The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, and what cookbook would be complete without a nod to Thanksgiving? Much of her sample Thanksgiving menu would be familiar to modern celebrants of the holiday. But one suggested dish has faded from memory. In addition to pies and other sweets, Farmer included a Thanksgiving Pudding, consisting of crackers, milk, sugar, eggs, butter, nutmeg, salt and raisins with a brandy sauce.
Source: New England Historical Society.