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For most of us, the main Thanksgiving meal is pretty much all about the turkey. It's the centerpiece of our plates and preparing it might even be the focus on and the highlight of the day itself. Well, there’s some stuffing, some cranberry sauce, and of course some pumpkin pie in there too. But it’s rare that we go back to the historical roots of Thanksgiving, at least when we're planning our menu.

What (We Think) The Pilgrims Ate

Traditionally, the pilgrims and Native Americans were supposed to have consumed venison fish and shellfish, pumpkin, potatoes, and various fruits and vegetables during the original Thanksgiving dinner. However, no one knows exactly what was served during the original American Thanksgiving meal at Plymouth Rock, of course, but it probably wasn’t as tasty as all of the delicious options that we have today.

So how can you pay homage to the Native Americans when you celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Start by going relatively basic with at least one side dish, so you can experience the flavors - or lack thereof - that they most likely would have had to work with. Here are two easy ways to get a little Native American influence on your Thanksgiving table...

Make Some Cornbread

And that all begins with bread, particularly cornbread (which the particular group of Native Americans that the settlers at Plymouth Rock would have been able to make. Wild rice might have rounded out their carbohydrate needs as well. And while it wasn’t really a thing in the northeast where the pilgrims landed, fry bread is a Native American or First Nations classic, so it wouldn't be totally out of place if you wanted to pay them some homage in the form of your Thanksgiving meal.

Or Go Traditional With Cranberries

Cranberries were both also something that these settlers would have enjoyed, although the way they used them bears virtually no resemblance to the cranberry gel that holds the shape of the can that some of us enjoy today.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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