"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Real Thanksgiving

To say that the American tradition of Thanksgiving is 'fake' would be wrong. The Thanksgiving we have created here in the states is our own. It is a testament to our ability to merge cultures and celebrations, myths and legends, into something we identify ourselves with. Thanksgiving is purely American- but it's also purely inaccurate. This post is about green living because it is about locavorism- after a fashion.

The cranberries and potatoes we associate with our national Thanksgiving day are sort of hogwash. They are our tradition, to be sure, and thusly endeared to us, but they are by no means what was so. I link closely the idea of eco-friendliness with history, because in the time before now, people didn't know how not to be eco-friendly. When all you have is the earth to live off of, all you can do is live green.

So if the northern contemporaries of John Smith and Pocahontas weren't chowing down on turkey, what were they eating? Last year I attempted to add an element of history and locality to our own Thanksgiving day feast, by incorporating a roast of elk which friends of ours had hunted themselves. (See the suspicious brown stuff in the image above!) I hardly think there was anything more local, with a smaller carbon footprint, than that!

If you're interested in incorporating an element of history and locavorism into your Thanksgiving day, here are a few colonial British and Native American dishes you can cook up with your children to teach them about the foods that the settlers and natives would have been growing in their very back yards. 

Succotash (from the from Narragansett language's msíckquatash, meaning "boiled corn kernels") is a traditional Native American dish of corn and beans, (traditionally lima.) It would have been cooked with a touch of animal fat and served as is.

 Johnny Cakes, as they are often called, are a grilled flatbread made of cornmeal. Fried in the grease of cooked meat, they were made out of the hand-pounded corn that had been grown all year and stored away for winter. They were cooked often for the sugaring time when the tribes would make their maple syrup. They are still traditionally eaten this way.

And to create a Pumpkin Soup would have been the both the stubborn pride and sad shame of any colonial British woman, for pumpkins were so ubiquitous in New England that they were considered a poor man's food. However, they are delicious, and a soup made from them makes a delicious first course.

Originally written for the Kids Fun Plaza magazine blog on 11/4/2010. Yes, I own my content.

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