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hile thousands of Amer-
icans will sit down to a
feast of turkey, stuffing,
cranberry sauce and
other assorted fixings this
Thanksgiving, the original event
was a much more modest affair.
Venison and cod, lobster and sea
bass, squash, beans and artichokes
probably comprised at least part of
the historic peace-feast between the
Wampanoag Indians and the Pil-
grim settlers 367 years ago in
In the fall of 1621, the 52 men,
women and children who survived
the first year in the New World after
leaving England on the Mayflower
decided to hold a celebratory feast.
Fifty others died of frostbite,
pneumonia and starvation. Just
four adult housewives survived the
Two primary references from the
first Thanksgiving remain, in-
cluding a diary kept by Gov.
William Bradford. They show that
the feast included cod, sea bass, wild
fowl such as geese, ducks and
swans, wild turkeys, corn meal and
five deer brought by the Indians,
about 90 of whom attended.
Some of the vegetables were eaten
raw but most were boiled. Cranber-
ries, plentiful in New England, also
Beer was the liquid of choice, even
for children, since the water was
considered unreliable. Among the
desserts served were pudding and
ashcakes, which were cornmeal
cakes baked in ashes.
There was no cider, because apple
and other fruit trees would take
years to bear fruit after planting. No
potatoes, no corn on the cob, no
molasses, no coffee or tea either.
The Pilgrims and Indians broke a
variety of breads at cloth-covered
tables sitting on benches; some of
the important men had chairs.
There were some knives and forks,
but no spoons. Hands were the uten-
sils of choice.
The feast was formalized under
President George Washington, who
set aside Thursday, Nov. 26, 1790, as
the first officials day of Thanksgiv-
ing for "the many signal favors of