Tagged ‘pilgrims’

The Answer Is YES!…

August 17th, 2009 by admin

We ARE hot is these pilgrim clothes! You all are hot and you’re only wearing shorts a t-shirts. But what about our characters? How do they feel about all that wool and linen on these sweltering New England afternoons? Well, I can’t say for certain, of course, but I have to imagine that they were just as uncomfortable as we are.

But…they were terribly concerned for their health. The prevailing medical theory of the day was the Doctrine of Humours whereby “health was seen as the proper balance of the four internal humours, blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. While a balanced state brought wellness, imbalance resulted in ill health and disease. Either harmful or helpful, the environment was a powerful agent in this dynamic physical process, such things as weather, water, air, or astrological movements affecting the equilibrium of both individuals and nations. Thus cold was not just unpleasant, but the potential cause of minor and severe ailments.”*

It is as though they might have thought that any skin exposed to the elements had the potential of allow sickness into the body. We have evidence of people fearing that they were not wearing enough even if a man did not wear a doublet over his cassock or suit.

What we will offer the visitor concerned about our comfort is the admonition that “I would not dress as you for the sun is not good for you.” And they can understand the worry of skin cancer even if our seventeenth century counterparts cannot.

So, please understand, when you see those rivulets of “liquid sunshine” pouring down our faces under those hats or coifs…we ARE hot in those clothes. But to dress otherwise would do a disservice to the actual people we represent. In a sense, we do it for YOU.

*”from “Dressing the Elite: Clothes in Early Modern England” by Susan Vincent. Thanks to our costumer extraordinaire, Denise Lupica, for this.


Were They All Shorter Back Then?

February 10th, 2009 by admin

When visitors come in to our character’s houses and see the beds, invariably they make assumptions about people’s heights. This is natural as we all make assumptions based on our own 21st century (and various ethnic, cultural, gender-based…you get the picture) mindsets. Obviously our characters can’t give much insight about this as they are just living their normal lives.

But a former colleague of ours, Caroline Freeman Travers, wrote an excellent essay, “Were They All Shorter Back Then” that discusses this very topic. In that this blog wants to be more conversational in its tone, and Caroline’s essay is quite scholarly, I’ll just post a link to it. Our website can sometimes be a bit unwieldy and I don’t want  you to miss some of the great stuff on it, so I will linking to various parts of it that I think might be of interest to some of you.

Check out Caoline’s work by clicking HERE.


Make Haste – Hasty Pudding, that is!

February 10th, 2009 by admin

Hasty Pudding isn’t just an award that Harvard’s drama club drags out this
time every year, all congratulations to this years Woman of the Year Renee
Zellweger. Hasty Pudding was good eating, as well as  good times, enjoyed in
the seventeenth century and it’s descendant dish – Indian Pudding – is still
being enjoyed in Plymouth. Hasty Pudding is referenced long before there is
a recipe for it. ”Fij, I can thinke of no fitter name than a hasty pudding.
For I protest in so great haste I composed it,…”(1599). But it’s another
fifty years before it shows up in a recipe form by William Rabisha, in a
very elegant form that includes a finishing touch of:
with a handful of Sugar, and a little Rose-water, stir them together again
till they begin to boyl and thicken, then put it out into your dish you
serve it up in, set it on a heap of coals, put a fire-shovell to be red hot
in the fire, then hold it close to you Pudding untill it is brown on the
top, so scrape on Sugar and send it up.

Doesn’t that sound like the sort of thing that ought to have replaced crème
brulee as the dress desert of tres chic trend? But most hasty puddings were
far simpler fare – flour or fine meal, boiled in water or milk, and then
served up in a hurry  – “Like a hastie-Pudding, longer in the eating, then
it was in making.”

When John Jossylyn writes about the use of maize meal in New Englands
Rarities (1672), it is a version of this simpler pudding he
recounts: ….Homminey, which they put in  a Pot of two or three Gallons, with
Water, and boyl it upon a gentle Fire till it be like Hasty Pudden; they
put of this into Milk, and so eat it.”

I hope you were paying attention because here’s the subtle shift between old
England’s Hasty Pudden (Okay – I LOVE that spelling; it’s how I hear it in
my mind’s ear) and New England’s Indian Pudding. Amelia Simmons in 1796,
first American Cook Book and all – she’s the first to record a recipe for
Indian Pudding – three, actually. They’re called ‘Indian’ because they’re
made with Indian corn meal – to differentiate it from rye and wheat, which
were English flours. And then, too, corn meant any grain that you grew, not
like now when it’s Zea mais. And they each include meal that is boiled,
although the haste is gone. One needs to cook for twelve hours. That’s
right – twelve hours. By the time the Boston Cooking School Cook Book comes
along in 1884, Mrs. Lincoln (who was Fannie Farmer’s predecessor) manages to
shave four hours off the process in the Plymouth Indian Indian-Meal Pudding,
contributed by Mrs. Faunce. It’s a version of this Indian Pudding that I’ve
been making for the Plimoth Cinema. In my version I use a slow cooker
instead of a slow oven. And I have to triple the quantities  – there are a
lot of Indian pudding lovers in Plymouth!

I’ve also discovered the Great Fruit Divide – the people who tolerate, or
even love raisins or dates or other add-ins, and those who broach no
sullying of the corn/milk/molasses that is Indian pudding. As soon as I
finish this I’m going to try a small batch of what may be Plimoth Cinema
Indian Pudding – one with cornmeal, milk and molasses, to be sure, but with
some cranberries – dried, like the addition of raisins, or fresh (fresh
being the ones I froze during the harvest) to make a something completely
different? Will the fresh ones burst and make the muddy color murkier or
perk it up? Hmmmm…never a dull moment in the life of a Foodways Culinarian!

Coming soon – Pilgrim Pancakes for Shrove Tuesday (maybe you know the day as
Mardi Gras?) and Pippin Hot – Seventeenth Century Apple Pies

Kathleen Wall ~ Colonial Foodways Culinarian

Pilgrims, Google, and Page Rank

February 5th, 2009 by admin

As many of you know I do online marketing on the side. Because of that I understand a tiny bit about the way Google works. This blog has only been around for six months and it already has a Page Rank of 3 out of ten. Now, while that doesn’t always affect where me might appear in an organic search (like when you type in “pilgrim” into the Google search bar, we don’t appear anywhere on the first 5 pages), it IS pretty good for a brand new blog.

And it’s all because all of you. Google loves fresh content and you all keep providing it. In the coming season I’m going to hit a number of you up to do some posting for the benefit of our readers. And those of you lurking behind your keyboards…if you’ve commented, thank you and keep it up. If you haven’t, come out from behind the weeds and give us a shout.


But They Knew They Were Pirates

February 2nd, 2009 by admin

In 1623 the ship called Little James arrived in New Plimoth carrying a number of passengers for the colony and a letter of Mark.  The men on the ship seemed to be in some dispute with their captain about whether or not they should have taken a French fishing ship that they had encountered on the way.  William Bradford told these men that they were fishermen but they knew they were Pirates.  A ” Letter of Mark” ( spellings vary) was essentially a license for taking other peoples ships, people and stuff because they were enemies or competitors with your King and Country.  As long as you stayed within the conditions of your letter of mark you would be considered as if you were working for the Royal Navy and had captured an enemy vessel.  Of course to their victims, regardless of their legal status they would still be pirates.  Therefore for purposes of this post I will be referring to all “takers”  ( Bradford uses this in his letter from March, 1623)  as pirates.

Pirates and Pinnaces and Pilgrims, Oh my!

You may be wondering what pirates pilgrims and pinnaces have to do with one another or how they relate to the history of Plimoth Colony.  Firstly, the Little James was a pinnace of about 44 tuns burden.  A pinnace in the 17th C. was a small ship. Interestingly enough the Little James was both a pirate and was the victim of ‘Turkish’ pirates off of England in 1625.  The loss of the Little James and the Fortune four years earlier had serious economic consequences for Plimoth Colony.  As can be seen with recent headlines regarding the piracy of an oil tanker off of Somalia, piracy is still a serious and contemporary problem.  Also, the rich body of both printed and audio-visual literature regarding pirates from Long John Silver to Captain Jack Sparrow provides a wealth of mythology, interesting tales, and really interesting contrasts and comparisons between the pirates of myth and literature versus the rather gritty reality of European pirates of the North Atlantic.  It is my intention to incorporate further research toward the goal of an eventual dock-side exhibit about 17th C. piracy.  Combining myth and reality that would both educate and entertain our guests, particularly the younger ones, we can continue to compare and contrast the lives of people in both the 17th and 21st Centuries.

As the printed word is such a one way means of communication please let me invite you to continue to discuss pirates and piracy with a man personally concerned about the subject.  I have once again been cast in the role of Christopher Jones, Ship’s Master on Mayflower II and you might find his take on this subject interesting.

Christopher Messier

Program Interpreter/Museum Teacher

Where Do Pilgrims Eat?

January 26th, 2009 by admin

Alright, I wrote that title for the search engines so we get on Google’s first page for “pilgrims”. But a question that we often really do get at the museum is “where is a good place to eat in Plymouth”? I’m going to mention a couple of my favorites and I hope some of colleagues will add some of theirs. If I don’t mention a particular restaurant it’s because:

  1. I haven’t gotten around to writing about it yet
  2. I haven’t been there, or
  3. I don’t like the joint

I’m not going have anything negative about any local business so you’ll only see positive comments here. That said, my wife and I went out for our 16th wedding anniversary (we got married in Reno, NV) the other night at one of our perennial favorites, Tuscany Tavern, in North Plymouth. A former sandwich shop, this place never fails to delight us with both their food and atmosphere. It only seats about 25 people so it can be boisterous, but this is part of its charm.

As you might guess from its name, Tuscany Tavern is an Italian restaurant. Everything is cooked to order in the busy open kitchen. That night my wife and I did something we almost never do- order the same dish. We always like to try a couple of entrees and invariably I always end up wishing I ordered what she did. This time however, we split a Caeser salad (mmm, anchovies) and each got the Scampi with linguini.

Cooked perfectly, the meal was just enough that I did not feel over-stuffed when we left. My only issue is that the chef continues in a contemporary culinary pet peeve of mine…leaving the tail end of the shell on. This is fine for shrimp cocktail but I just don’t like dipping my fingers in sauce. Whiny, I know, but hey, I’m writing this post.

Of course, it being a special occasion we had to split a chocolate mousse cake, alas no Port to go with it. That’s alright, the Chardonnay we had with the meal was sufficient.

To say the cost of the meal was reasonable is to understate the fact. All in all, every single time we go to Tuscany Tavern it is a memorable affair.

Next up: The Blue Eyed Crab


Welcome To New Plimoth

January 14th, 2009 by admin

A truly “Behind the scenes” event happened on Monday that I feel needs to be revealed to the reader.  I showed up a few minutes late for my meeting with Penny, our diligent wardrobe employee (she is assisted by two lovely interns) to return the clothing I wore every day in the village when I became, to the visitor, Alice Bradford, wife of the Governor of New Plimoth, William Bradford.  Returning your clothing is a bittersweet moment.  On one hand you’re glad that for the next several months you’ll be wearing modern clothing; warm boots on cold days, slickers on rainy days and of course for the women, no stays!   On the other hand you can be sad to see them go.  I love my orange checked petticoat, that bright blue waistcoat that fit me so well and of course the beautiful robins egg blue (or is is it lilac?) gown that Jill Hall made for me during my first season.  As a woman, I enjoy the ease of wearing petticoats instead of pants,  I miss the practicality of wearing a hat with a wide brim and scoggers are as practical as a garment can be, but, as the season ends our clothing needs to be cleaned, mended, altered and reassigned, so we hand it in each year, say good bye to old favorites and hope that in the spring we will once again be seeing them, bright and clean.

That’s not exactly what I was writing about though.  I showed up a few minutes late, logged in each garment with Penny, had a chat with the wardrobe department, then stuck around to talk with Bill.  Scott came along presently and a discussion about our favorite books, and what exactly was revealed by Massasoit during the story ending with the phrase “three moderate stools” followed.  I picked up a copy of Training Manual IV as I will be scheduled to be on the Mayflower II at some point next season and there was more talk about sweatshirts sizes, hats, golf shirts, Bob Dylan and Neil Young.  Tom stopped in with some vacation dates to be claimed and some camping stories and as noon time rolled around we all made our way to the Carriage House.  The lounge in the carriage house is where we have our breaks.  There are old couches, chairs and a couple of tables where we can eat our lunches.  Pilgrims on break will read magazines, catch up on source materials, nap, chat with co-workers and rejuvinate before heading back into the village.  It’s a comforting place, and this day it was so much so, there were probably 25 people jammed into this one room.  Kathleen Wall, our Foodways coordinator had cooked up two generous pots of comfort.  One was a spinach soup (it reminded me of the escarole soup my grandma made) and the other a vegetarian gumbo. A large pot of rice accompanied either choice.  Around the table conversations ranged from the latest movie someone had seen to what exactly a “Cougar” is and everything in between.  Nearly every department in Plimoth Plantation was represented in this unexpected convergence; folks from WIP, the Craft Center, the Artisan and Marine Departments, Grounds, Wardrobe, Education, Farm and CID were there.  This is why many of us love this job.  Being in a room with so many people who know (for the most part) where you’re coming from, eating a simple bowl of soup that is the best you’ve ever had at that moment and laughing. Is there ever a time in your life when those things aren’t important?  Unfortunately I think there are many times in our lives when we don’t get enough comraderie.  There are certainly many jobs we could have where it would not even be thought of, but we are pilgrims, comraderie and food are very important to us.  The people we are trained to portray would not have survived with out it.  We know this and this wisdom brings us together in modern times as well.  Welcome to New Plimoth, pull up a cushion, have som boyled rice and a bowl of soup….what ever that is.


Apprentice Colonial Interpreter

Pilgrim Christmas Recipe-Idolatry In A Crust

December 18th, 2008 by admin

Mincemeat, part II

Mincemeat, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, was in fact, minced
meat. Usually beef, sometime mutton, occasionally veal. But meat alone
isn’t mincemeat. It also had copious amounts of raisins (a/k/a ‘raisins of
the sunne’) and currents and sometimes dates and prunes, as well as generous
amounts of spices and sugar. The weight of the dried fruit might equal or
exceed the weight of the meat, and in the 1620 the raisins were much more
expensive per ounce then the meat was.

Suet isn’t something we cook much with any more, but fat is another
component of the mince pie. The fat is what makes it rich. During the 1700′s
butter starts to come in as the fat of choice, and by the 20th century seems
to be more common.

If I were making this mincemeat at home (and I have) I would take three
pounds of beef, one to one and a half pounds of butter, three pounds of
dried fruit, all cut small and well mixed (and be grateful that I don’t have
to pick stems off the raisins and stones out of them) with some orange peel
(two or three oranges worth). Salt, pepper, cloves (this can be strong – not
too much) and mace (or nutmeg if you have that – they have a very similar
flavor profile). Put it into pastry – you can use pie pans if you want,
sprinkle more sugar on top and bake them in your oven.

If you want to risk idolatry, make little rectangle pies and have them
symbolize the manger where the Christ child was born. If you don’t want to
fall into idolatry, make little rectangle pies just because they’re fun. You
could even use frozen puff pastry and ‘let your soul delight in fatness’.
And if you want to be thoroughly superstitious, go out on each of the Twelve
Days of Christmas to a different house and eat a mince pie in each to have
good luck for each of the twelve months in the year ahead. Either way, enjoy
Christmas and the twelve days after!

Kathleen M. Wall
Colonial Foodways Manager

The Season’s Winding Down

October 27th, 2008 by admin

While I am not currently in the 1627 English Village (see, I didn’t use Pilgrim…) as I am mostly on the road for the Education Department, and since my co-workers haven’t sent me anything from them to post (Kate and Kathleen…), I thought I’d comment a little about this time of year as I remember it.

It’s Autumn and it is my favorite time of the year in New England. Sure, it’s school groups and leaf peepers galore and we love every one of them. But it’s red and yellow and orange sugar maples, rusty red-brown oaks, bright and brilliant colors on the rivers’ edges, and the chill and promise of winter in the crisp smell in the wind of the coming holiday season.

As New Englanders we know to anticipate the long winter coming, to put away the Aloha shirts and bring out the flannel sheets. It starts with the pirate and the ghost and the ninja stashing candy in their bags on the front porch. Then we look for the perfect turkey, the cranberry sauce and potatoes and gravy. We’ll smell apple and pumpkin pie and good strong coffee in the morning.

Then, after the time for giving thanks, it’s the time for giving. We’ll give to those we love, those that need it most and we’ll say goodbye until next year to those who only work the Pilgrim season, our friends.  Then there is a long sojourn into the sometimes white, sometimes not, but almost always cold and leafless trees and frozen driveways of winter. And the promise of the coming spring.

It sure is good to be home.


“And They Knew They Were Pilgrims”…Redux

September 10th, 2008 by admin

As many who have visited our museum have learned, our characters in the 1627 English Village tend to steer visitors away from referring to us as “pilgrims”. William Bradford does use the word once in his history Of Plimoth Plantation. He uses the quote with which I’ve titled this post. But we tend not to think of these people in the classic definition of the word pilgrim.

Dictionary.com defines the word as: a person who journeys, esp. a long distance, to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion: pilgrims to the Holy Land, and that is, I think, how the people we portray would define the word in their time.

That said, we will probably use the word here sometimes for two reasons. Firstly, it is how the people who came to New Plimoth in 1620 on a ship called Mayflower have become to affectionately be known throughout the world. And secondly, it is because we want this blog (and, by extension, our museum) to become more widely known.

When I first heard about this project I became very excited for us. We were entering into new and exciting territory. Now we’ve really gone from 1620 to 2008…just by typing into cyberspace. However, when I typed the word “pilgrim” into Google’s search engine we were nowhere to be found, at least not on the first page where we should be. And the same held true for “Thanksgiving.” Imagine that.

So, while we might use these words here in a manner unfamiliar to the people we represent, they will help us rank higher in the search engines. Don’t worry, our characters may still educate you on the proper use of their English language, but for now—Pilgrim will do just fine.

Buddy Tripp

Lead Colonial Interpreter

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