|Wampanoag Sobaheg Stew|
Mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie are all dishes that are fixtures on the Thanksgiving dinner table in American households. However, the fact remains that these dishes would have been absent from the dinner table at the First Thanksgiving in 1621. Here is a little bit of history about the people who celebrated the First Thanksgiving and the foods they likely ate at that time.
Who Were the Pilgrims?
- Four men were sent to hunt for wild fowl; turkeys may or may not have been hunted.
- The celebration lasted three days.
- The men held shooting games. This may have alarmed the nearby Wampanoags who went to offer help thinking the settlers were under attack.
- 90 Wampanoags were this invited to join the celebration, and they secured five deer to add to the feast.
What Else Could They Have Eaten?
- The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans & Squash (pumpkins, gourds, etc)
- Sunflowers: Seeds and Oil
- Sunchokes, Jerusalem Artichokes from the plant, Helianthus tuberosus, which is a relative of the sunflower family.
- Fish & Seafood
- Nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, acorns)
- Berries and Fruit (raspberries, strawberries, cloudberries, blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, ground cherries, beach plums)
- Maple Sugar
- Sumac Berries
- Important: There is no evidence that cranberries were embraced by the colonists at this early date of settlement.
- Other possibilities from Seeds Brought From England or Leftover from the Voyage:
- Salad herbs such as onions, leeks, sorrel, yarrow, watercress, flax, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, and other leafy greens.
- English Peas, a small amount since they harvested very few that first year
- Wheat, (a small amount remained from the voyage)
- Beer, Small Beer, or Cider (possibly left from the voyage)
Wampanoag Sobaheg (Stew):
- 1 Cup Dried Beans (Lima or Pinto)
- ½ Cup Stone-Ground Grits/Cornmeal
- ½ Cup Chestnuts, Roasted, Peeled and Chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 8 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes), Cleaned and Chopped
- 2 Cups Any Winter Squash or Pumpkin, peeled and Cut into Bite-Sized Pieces
- ¼ Cup Black Walnuts, Shelled and Ground
- ¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds, Shelled and Ground
- Combine the dried beans, grits, chestnuts, salt, and 8 cups water in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to very low and simmer. A
- After about 30 minutes, add the Jerusalem artichokes. Cover and cook approximately 2 hours until the beans are tender, stirring often to prevent sticking. Periodically skim off the froth that rises to the top.
- Stir in the squash and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Add the nut and seed flours, stirring until thoroughly blended, season to taste (if necessary), and serve.