Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

A Short Relation of a Day of Thanks in the New Plimoth Colony

November 25th, 2010 by admin

So, Thanksgiving. The single busiest day in the life of a Plimoth Plantation employee. For many, the holiday conjures up images of turkey dinners and pumpkin pie shared by the English settlers and their Native guests. Visitors to the site today may be surprised that neither the English nor the Wampanoag seem particularly inclined to get together and pig out. In fact, besides the crowds, little is changed in the museum’s daily routine. Without going into a long, involved explanation of why this is so (which we’ll be doing a great deal of in person in the village today), let’s just say that for the Pilgrims, a day of thanksgiving was a day of fasting and prayer, entirely different from the feast day embraced by modern American culture. In addition, it was not an occasion that they celebrated with any regularity, so if you bring up the subject of “Thanksgiving” or a “harvest celebration” the interpreters will react with surprise or ask if you have heard about such a day being planned.

Obviously, the interpreters who portray these seventeenth century villagers have twenty-first century customs, so most of us have plans of our own for Thanksgiving Day. The break room becomes a repository for all sorts of fantastic food, brought in buffet-style by the village staff for the enjoyment of our friends and co-workers. We obviously look forward to five o’ clock when the gates close and we can relax after a long and hectic day at the office. That being said, even those hours spent in the village are enjoyable, because what better place to spend Turkey Day then at the place where the modern conception of the holiday was born?

If anybody would like to learn about the true origins of the Thanksgiving holiday, then why not come down and visit us? If you prefer the relaxed atmosphere of your own home and comfortable couch, then perhaps you would enjoy watching “The Real Story of Thanksgiving,” filmed here at the Plant, starring our costumed interpreters, and airing on the History Channel tonight at 11:00 PM.

To all of you I wish a very happy Thanksgiving, and family and good friends to share it with.

Aaron Dougherty

Interpretation Apprentice

It’s Not all Thanksgiving or Recipes for Pilgrims

November 24th, 2009 by admin

We haven’t been blogging (and by ‘we’ I mean those of us in costume), but we’ve been busy. Lots of people coming by to see us; lots of schoolchildren, too. That sounds like schoolchildren aren’t people, which isn’t what I mean, although there IS something fluky about critical mass and energy and the presence of chickens, no doubt a very interesting behavioral study waiting to happen.
And the press – have you seen us in the Globe? (boston.com) They covered us (and by us, I mean ME, along with some others) on November 13th, National Indian Pudding Day. You did celebrate National Indian Pudding Day, didn’t you? Here’s what I hope will be a link to the How2Heroes website, which is featuring a video on Indian Pudding starring – ME!
And then there was the Cape Cod Times …and the Boston Herald and the AP article and the radio station in San Fransisco, and the one in Vermont, and the one in Louisiana, and the one in…it’s not just the food, it’s the ways.
Such is the life in of a Colonial Foodways Culinarian in November in Plymouth.
You still have time for a quick visit –
Colonial Foodways Culinarian

One of Those Days

November 6th, 2009 by admin

Saturday was one of those days. No, not one of THOSE days. One of those days that makes wet wool, sweaty pilgrim garb, not-for-profit pay scales, early mornings shoveling manure, late nights reading incomprehensible 17th century texts, freezing cold, blazing heat, and those excruciating pilgrim shoes- one of those days that makes it all worthwhile.
We had a boy coming in from hospice who also had some mobility issues. So, we brought many of our animals up to the fort area so he could meet them. This isn’t something we could do everyday, but we knew about the visit in advance, they had a special guided tour planned, and they were not coming at one of our busiest times.
So, our three lambs born in June were herded up to the fort. “Poppers,” last year’s newborn kid goat, was carried up by Shelley. And, I was able to take Damson and her new calf on his longest walk ever, so far, all the way up to the fort.
The young man and his family were able to meet them all which was quite delightful enough. His bravery and excitement were palpable, and it really was an honor to be part of brightening his day. But then it just got better.
Another visitor came in leading her blind son. His jaw dropped when I had him touch the cow, as he realized the enormity of the animal under his fingers. Then, Shelley handed him Poppers to hold; his fingers found her horns, and he beamed. Later, before we brought the animals back, a paraplegic woman from Ireland came into the fort area, and she was able to touch a cow for the first time as well. Not to mention the tour group of children from Holland and all of the other visitors coming through the fort that afternoon.
Our animal interpreters are here to delight and inform all of our visitors- young, old, city folk, farm families, everyone. But, I have to confess a special satisfaction whenever I get the chance to help folks who might have more difficulty interacting with a farm animal to get that amazing experience. It reminds me that our job here is really, dare I say it?, a labor of love.

-Jonny Larason, Agricultural Exhibits

A Whole New World

October 31st, 2009 by admin

Our little bull calf is exploring his world. Two days ago, he seemed like he really wanted to come closer to us, to come and say hello, but he was a bit too scared. We were too far away from mom I guess. Yesterday he got brave and came right up and sniffed and licked us. Today, he is licking everything. Licking different plants his mom eats. Licking the fences. Licking my apron. Licking my hand. Licking the dirt I’m working in (putting in a new fence post) which leaves powdery brown smudges on his nose. Then he gallops around in circles.
We were visited by 1800 schoolchildren today, and he even went up to the fence and licked them from in between the pales. And somehow, either in his mind or mine, his work here at this museum became clear: he’s going to spend his life around kids, families, and guests to our museum, pulling loads and maybe even plowing. (Not bad when most little guys look forward to becoming a tasty steak!) He’s going to be a bovine interpreter, hopefully making it possible for kids (or anybody) to see what cattle feel like, or look like, or smell like; or for a museum guest to learn how a cow thinks. Hopefully he’ll educate people how the colonists used animal power to do things beyond the capabilities of their own musculature—moving heavy loads of wood or hay, taking stumps out of the ground, plowing (not to mention totally transforming the indigenous landscape into what it is today, but that’s a different post…)

Final Exam for a Milk Cow

October 30th, 2009 by admin

Earlier this week, we posted from the Village Farm about the arrival of our newest interpreter, the calf born to Damson, our red and black cow. In that post we mentioned the training Damson has gone through over the last 4 years to become the excellent exhibit animal she is today.
In all learning processes, some of steps in training are strange and mysterious to the student until they have enough background to put everything into context. In the same way, I think parts of our morning and afternoon cow handling routine (which is an essential part of how we teach our exhibit animals) must have seemed odd to Damson. I mean, I’m sure she enjoyed the part where we brush and rub her down. Lifting her legs every day may have made sense to her the first time she got her hooves trimmed. But why, she probably wondered, do they insist on reaching under me and touching my udder? Isn’t that sort of personal?
Over time, Damson stopped feeling tickled when her udder was palpated, and she learned not to move away. And yesterday, the fruits of four years of training came true, as Damson stood still for her first milking- without rope or stanchion or anything to restrain her. Her training enabled us to make milking her an exhibit that looked just like the images we see from 17th century paintings and woodcuts, dairy maids milking their cows freestanding in the fields.

Boiled Salad, Lesson 3

October 16th, 2009 by admin

This is the throughly modern version
Butter, Vinegar
Cinnamon, ginger, sugar, currents
Bread for sippets

Hard boil eggs. When cool peel from shells and cut in fourths.
To make sippets: Use a bread that is sturdy enough to not sog up completely when the spinach is put on it. French bread (baguette) sliced thin and toasted is nice. Think great big crouton! Toast bread.
Pick through and wash spinach. Pull off large stems and chop leaves.
With the water from the last rinse clinging, put into a heavy bottomed pot and add butter and vinegar. Cook on medium heat until wilted.
Add spice and currents. Warm through and keep on low with the lid off if it’s too watery.
Put sippets on a serving dish. Top with spinach. Top spinach with quartered hard boiled eggs.

And, as they say, serve it forth.
Colonial Foodways Culinarian

Investigate The “First Thanksgiving”-An Interactive Exploration For Kids

October 9th, 2009 by admin


Many of you are probably unaware that our Education Department has an online interactive site for kids to investigate the “First Thanksgiving” or Harvest Feast between the English colonists and the local Wampanoag people. It’s a fun way for kids to explore this fascinating and often misunderstood event. You can access it here:

Investigate The First Thanksgiving


What’s Cooking in the 1627 English Village

October 29th, 2008 by admin

I’ve managed to knock out two computers in the last two weeks, which hasn’t made me calmer about this whole blogging business.

The flocks of geese flying overhead, those lovely Canada geese, the “grey goose with a black neck and a black and white head, strong of flight, and these be a great deal bigger than the ordinary geese of England, some very fat, and in the spring so full of feathers hat the shot can scarce pierce them.” Of William Wood’s 1634 New Englands Prospect. He goes on to mention that they can be shot both flying and sitting.

But how to cook them? There are possibilities – roasting being a good choice in 1627, what with all the wood for fuel. And roasting with oats and sage in the belly is mentioned in Markham’s English Housewife – in the section on oats, not in the cookery section on roasted meats, go figure. And then there’s a recipe in a Dutch cookbook, The Sensible Cook, of a roasted goose with chestnuts in the belly. It’s easy to forget that chestnuts were once such a prominent feature in the wooded landscape of New England.

Chestnuts also go well with turnips, which grow to prodigious size in New England in the seventeenth century. And we’ve got some really big turnips in our 1627 gardens now. Turnips don’t do well after freezing weather, although they will tolerate light frost, so they’re something that needs to be eaten up soon. Since this is the end of the turnip season, they can be a little – lets say strong. Some might say outright rank, but in defense of the humble turnip, let me say right cooking makes all the difference.

From a 14th century manuscript: “Turnips, small turnips should be cooked in water without wine for the first boiling. The throw the water away and cook slowly in water and wine, and chestnuts therin, or, if one has no chestnuts, sage.”

The secret to good turnips is to throw the first boiling water away. All the rankness goes away with it. Finishing them up in wine is very nice. A little vinegar and sugar added to water can substitute for the wine. I’d cook the chestnuts first, either boiling them or roasting them, and then add them to the wine. But considering the lack of local chestnut trees and the price of imported one, sage – just a little fresh – is also very good. Let the wine/water cook down to make a nice sauce.

How much wine? How much water? It depends on how much turnips/chestnuts. The old recipes don’t give amounts, but they assume that you know how to cook things already. As someone who almost never follows modern recipes, this has always suited me just fine.

Now turnips (which also go well with stewed ducks) got me thinking about skirrets and sops and pompion and pottages and bag puddings and black puddings….but I’ve got to go get some cheate bread out of the oven, so it will all have to wait until later.

KMWall, 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.


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