Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

“Mommyo, can we have an old-timey Thanksgiving?”

The reference texts. (Photo: Shala Howell)

We are hosting Thanksgiving this year, and per form, back when hosting was still a hypothetical prospect, The Seven-Year-Old and I got pretty excited about the possibilities.

The Seven-Year-Old, brilliantly: “Mommyo, can we have an old-timey Thanksgiving?”

Mommyo, enthusiastically: “Sure! Let me grab my old cookbooks.”

What did they serve at old-timey Thanksgivings?

My 1905 New England Cookbook is on loan to a friend right now, so I pulled out my 1896 Fannie Farmer instead. Conveniently, it includes a menu for a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner on page 520.

Ok. Let’s see here.

Traditional Thanksgiving Menu from the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook.

Traditional Thanksgiving Menu from the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook.

The roast turkey, mashed potatoes, squash, apple pie, cranberry jelly, crackers & cheese, and nuts & raisins we’d have anyway. And really, how hard could it possibly be to set out celery, salted almonds, ice cream, fruits, fancy cakes, and bonbons as well?

Cafe noir turns out to be extra-strong black coffee, served after dinner, with or without sugar. Let’s call it espresso, and we’re done.

So that leaves…

    • Oyster soup
    • Onions in cream
    • Chicken pie
    • Fruit pudding
    • Sterling sauce
    • Mince pie
    • Squash pie

… as the stretch foods, so to speak.

How do you make squash pie?

Squash pie was the least disgusting sounding of the remaining foods. At least to me. I assumed that it was just a variant of pumpkin pie, which I’d serve anyway. So I looked it up first.

Skimming the recipe, it’s basically squash, sugar, salt, cinnamon, lemon extract, milk and an egg.  Sounds a lot like pumpkin pie, I thought. In fact, immediately under the Squash Pie recipe were these words:

“Pumpkin Pie, is made same as Squash Pie, using pumpkin in place of squash.”

There you go. Sounds fine.

The Seven-Year-Old, disgustedly: “To you, maybe. I’m not eating that.”

Ok. It’s not like The Seven-Year-Old would have eaten the pumpkin pie anyway.

What’s mince meat?

Next least disgusting was mince meat pie. I’d had mince meat pie every year growing up. How bad could the original recipe for it be?

The Seven-Year-Old, curiously: “What’s mince meat?”

For the curious, the mince meat recipes referenced in this post. (Source: 1896 Fannie Farmer)

For the curious, the mince meat recipes referenced in this post. Click to enlarge. (Source: 1896 Fannie Farmer)

Mommyo, informatively: “Says here it’s made of apples, quinces, sugar, molasses, cider, raisins, currants, citron, some brandy, a few spices, and beef.”

The Seven-Year-Old, gagging: “Beef pie? ICK!”

Mommyo, helpfully: “There’s a vegetarian version, if you want to try it instead.”

The Seven-Year-Old, resignedly: “What’s it made of?”

Mommyo, didactically: “Raisins, apples, citron, suet…”

The Seven-Year-Old, disgustedly: “Stop. We’re not making that.”

Mommyo, encouragingly: “What about the fruit pudding? Would you like to try that?”

The Seven-Year-Old, decisively: “No. Just make me mac and cheese.”

Well, that takes care of that. Looks like we’re not going to have an old-timey Thanksgiving after all.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

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2 Responses to ““Mommyo, can we have an old-timey Thanksgiving?””

  1. Hello, world! | CATERPICKLES

    […] extended family is more generously spirited than I am when it comes to Thanksgiving travel, and most years some of them come visit us for a week instead. This year, though, we neither traveled nor had […]

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