Ear: Dinner

Ever wondered what people were having for Thanksgiving dinner over the years?

Foodtimeline.org offers a menu for the occasion, taken from a letter written in New England in 1779, during the Revolutionary War.

On the menu were: "Haunch of Venison, Roast Chine of Pork, Roast Turkey, Pigeon Pasties, Roast Goose, Onions in Cream, Cauliflower, Squash, Potatoes, Raw Celery, Mincemeat Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, Indian Pudding, Plum Pudding, Cider."

"… Of course we could have no Roast Beef," the writer noted. "None of us have tasted Beef this three years back as it must all go to the Army, and too little they get, poor fellows.

"… Then when the dishes had been cleared away we all got round the fire as close as we could, and cracked nuts, and sang songs and told stories."

One might wonder if they had to crawl to the fire on their hands and knees after such a repast.

If you'd really like to do up a vintage from-scratch Thanksgiving next year, you might want to snag some recipes from the 300-page cookbook, "A New System of Domestic Cookery, Formed Upon Principles of Economy and Adapted to the Use of Private Families," written "By A Lady" in 1807 (bit.ly/Cook1807), just after the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

You might want to pass on the Eel Pye and Stewed Oxcheek for side dishes, and you're on your own to figure out the amounts required of many ingredients, or cooking times, but for the brave-hearted cook there are many tasty historical recipes. Bon appétit!

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.