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The traditional Thanksgiving feast began in Massachusetts in 1621, as a celebration after the Pilgrims had survived a horrendous winter in which almost half their small band from the Mayflower succumbed to cold, disease, or starvation. To solidify relations with the neighboring Wampanoag Indians and to thank them for their help in showing the Pilgrims how to plant crops and which forest plants were edible, Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony invited Chief Massasoit and his braves to the feast.
It was an exuberant time after the bleakest year imaginable. In the bubbling pots were deer, turkey, duck, geese, as well as oysters and other sea creatures. All the vegetables the Indians had taught the settlers to use were cooked --- squash, pumpkins, and corn --- as well as leeks and watercress. The women cracked corn for hominy, gathered cranberries, and baked corn bread. There were also crisp, cold apples, with wild plums, and dried berries, and even wine from wild grapes.
For the settlers and the ninety Indians who attended, the feast was a great success. For two hundred years, Thanksgiving Day was set aside for feasting and prayer. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day.
Now Thanksgiving is a family day when generations of a family travel great distances to feast and fete one another, to reminisce and to share the year's experiences. Through the decades the traditional Thansgiving meal has remained as it was for the first settlers --- turkey or other game, numerous autumn vegetables, cranberries, pumpkin (now in pie form), and squash --- a bounteous tribute to a generous fall harvest. Food preparation has come a long way from those first heavy iron pots and kettles used in the fireplace or outdoors, but the wholesome, abundant fruits-of-the-earth remain part of our Thanksgiving heritage.
A Traditional Meal from
Traditional dishes for your
by Mary Eccher - page 1 of 4
Steamed clams, cranberry pie, indian pudding, cranberry sauce, turkey, succotash and whipped parsnips are all part of the original Thanksgiving fare prepared today for family and friends. The steamed clams and sliced turkey are steaming hot and ready for the feast.
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