By Jennifer Jensen Wallach, Lindsey R. Swindall
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Additional resources for American Appetites: A Documentary Reader
The food which they eat in this country is corn, of which they have a great abundance, & beans & venison, which they probably eat (although they say that they do not), because we found many skins of deer and hares and rabbits. They make the best corn cakes I have ever seen anywhere, and this is what everybody ordinarily eats. They have the very best arrangement and machinery for grinding that was ever seen. One of these Indian women here will grind as much as four of the Mexicans. They have very good salt in crystals, which they bring from a lake a day’s journey distant from here.
In order to give an account of the several sorts of plants cultivated in Louisiana, I begin with Maiz, as being the most useful grain, seeing it is the principal food of the people of America, and that the French found it cultivated by the Indians. Maiz, which in France we call Turkey corn, (and we Indian-corn) is a grain of the size of a pea; there is of it as large as our sugar-pea: it grows on a sort of husks, (Quenouille) in ascending rows: some of these husks have to the number of seven hundred grains upon them, and I have counted even to a greater number.
Hale later popularized the idea that the “First Thanksgiving” had occurred in 1621 in Plimoth Plantation when the European settlers and Wampanoag Indians came together for a harvest celebration. Very little is known about the 1621 meal. These two documents provide the only primary source material about who was there and what was consumed. What is certain is that the feast was not an annual event or a direct progenitor of the nineteenth-century celebration. Colonial Culinary Encounters 35 Edward Winslow’s account: Our harvest being gotten in, our Governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which we brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others.
American Appetites: A Documentary Reader by Jennifer Jensen Wallach, Lindsey R. Swindall