Today’s Thanksgiving meal—turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie—looks a lot different than the feast Wampanoag Indians and Pilgrims ate in 1621.
According to the Guardian, the only written account of the 1621 Thanksgiving meal says that they ate five deer and some birds. “Probably a swan or a duck, because wild turkeys were harder to hunt down.” Talk about #StruggleThanksgiving.
What else was on the table? Shellfish, because it was easy to find—much easier that wild turkeys—along with boiled water fowl, nuts, and some veggies.
Stuffing kind of made an appearance, but it was pretty basic—nothing more than nuts, and maybe a couple onions. Ovens weren’t invented yet, so there were no oven-roasted birds. Birds were boiled, or roasted over a spit.
Cranberries were around, but sugar wasn’t. Have you had an unsweetened cranberry? Not pleasant.
Potatoes hadn’t been brought over from south america, so no fluffy, whipped mashed potatoes either.
The most disappointing news: Pilgrims and Indians probably didn’t get drunk, either, because the pilgrims hadn’t planted much barley, and if they had wine at all, it came from England. God, they were probably so bored.
For another 200 years, Americans barely celebrated Thanksgiving at all, until Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863.
So please, don’t go all “authentic” this year and try to create a traditional Thanksgiving meal. If you do, it will probably be kind of sad.