Eating the First Thanksgiving

By now I figure that most of us know that the story of Pilgrims and Native Americans we learned in grade school is not quite what really happened at the first Thanksgiving.  You probably also realize that the food we eat at our Thanksgiving table is not exactly what they had back then. Did you realize though, that there is strong evidence that Plymouth did not even have the first Thanksgiving?

Unraveling the First Thanksgiving

According to legend, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and held the first Thanksgiving in 1621.  They invited the local Native American tribe, the Wampanoag, to celebrate the harvest and they all shared a meal of thanksgiving.  That’s how it happened, right?

Well, it turns out that may not have been the first time.  Evidence shows that in 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés of Spain landed in Florida and established the city of St. Augustine.   When they landed, they left their ship, had a Catholic mass of thanksgiving, and then ate a feast with the local Native Americans.   Sounds like Thanksgiving to me!

Regardless of which Thanksgiving you support, our modern thanksgiving tables aren’t really representative of what they ate then.  If you want a more historically accurate table this year, check out these recipes.


If you believe the first Thanksgiving was in Plymouth, then you might enjoy a feast of:

  • Corn porridge
  • Stewed pompion (pumpkin, literally cut up the pumpkin, cut off the skin and boil)
  • Three Sisters (a delicious(?) blend of corn, beans and winter squash–an acquired taste!)


If you think St. Augustine sounds like Thanksgiving #1, then you would enjoy a feast of

Anyway, whichever way you choose, try to find some rest this Thanksgiving and remember all the things you have to be thankful for!


Image by John Mitchell from Pixabay

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