We’ve recently unearthed diaries from a couple of key figures associated with the Plymouth Pilgrims which shed some new light onto the first Thanksgiving. Here are some excerpts:
William Bradford (Governor of the Plymouth colony) November,1621
The local indians who call themselves the Wampanoag tribe, gathered their fall harvest and shared a “thanksgiving” meal with us. It has been a tough year for us all so this meal was a welcome respite from our troubles. We, the Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag both brought food to the celebration. The Indians started with tartar of Kobe beef, the beef was quite good in it’s uncooked state, they say it came from somewhere called “Jap Pan” it was served with tiny black fish eggs they called “Bell Ooga Caviar”. We then presented one of our favorite dishes, truffled butternut squash with a side of lobster & crabmeat gratin. The Wampanoag brought ceremonial tables settings with them, their crystal stemware although quaint was somewhat insulting to our wine, an 1585 Chataeu LaTour. Also the absence of a proper oyster fork somewhat ruined the oyster experience for us. The locals primitiveness added to their take on salad, endive and quince with an artichoke puree garni was simple and delicious. Our main course was a traditional ravioli stuffed with guinea fowl and burrata cheese and had a delicate veal reduction. The red men served turkey which had a plum glaze with a spinach, bacon and cashew stuffing and black truffle butter and white wine gravy. Of course we saved the best for last, our world renowned Creme Brulee which was the talk of Kings throughout europe. It was quite a meal, not like we had back home but not bad. We just need to break these noble savages of some of their habits. No oyster fork? For shame.
Squanto (Native American, part of the Wampanoag tribe who spoke english & helped the pilgrims) November,1621
The white men were friendly enough and we felt sorry because of the bad luck that had befallen them and we decided to share our harvest celebration with these “pilgrims”. They didn’t know what to make of our tartar of Kobe beef, one of them stuck a lit candle in it to try and cook it, they also thought the caviar were soft poppy seeds. The palefaces truffled butternut squash was not as special as they led us to believe, kind of boring. The “pilgrims” also seemed upset about the lack of an oyster fork, we’ve been using a small salad fork to eat oysters with for a couple of hundred years and so far have had no problems. Their guinea fowl stuffed ravioli was passable, ruined by a weak veal reduction. I don’t think any of them can deglaze a pan correctly. Of course the turkey went over well, how could it not. I defy the sun god himself to make a better black truffle butter and white wine gravy than me, I know he cannot. The “pilgrims” dessert of Creme Brulee which they were so proud of was frankly embarrassing, I’ve seen better deserts come out of the hind end of a dog. If this is the best they can do for a harvest celebration maybe we should have let them perish