The foods Americans eat at a traditional Thanksgiving are mostly inspired by the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, but have you ever wondered what the first Thanksgiving would have been like if it had happened in Wisconsin?
I know it’s nearly impossible for the Pilgrims to take a river into the Great Lakes and arrive in Wisconsin, but it’s fun to think about. What would native Wisconsinites have eaten to celebrate Thanksgiving? No, I’m not talking cheese and bratwurst, because those came later. What about the 1621 Wisconsinites? I’m sure the Natives would have been happy to invite the Pilgrims-Midwest hospitality and all.
After a bit of Wikipedia research, I have come up with a plausible dinner menu. I make no guarantees to the historical accuracy of the following account, but I can almost guarantee it will make you smile.
The main dish would have probably been fish or deer, as these served as Native Wisconsinite’s main source of protein. If the first Thanksgiving had been in Wisconsin, maybe Americans would celebrate Thanksgiving like we celebrate every Friday- with a fish fry!
Next we consider the side dishes. To my surprise, rice was a major component of the Native Wisconsinite’s diet. In fact, one of the tribes was called Menominee, which means “wild rice people”. One of the Artisans here at Wisconsinmade.com, Chieftain Wild Rice, makes delicious wild rice side dishes in Spooner, Wisconsin. Perhaps their name is a nod to the early Wisconsinite’s favorite grain. The family of our owner, Linda, has been known to subsist on a diet mainly of Chieftain Wild Rice during the holidays. You can hear her talk about it on the Morning Blend.
Another ingredient early Wisconsin residents use that is stilll popular today is maple syrup. I doubt the syrup came in a decorative gift basket with pancake mix, but I bet they wish it did.
And dessert? Berries and nuts of course. Maybe if the Pilgrims brought some flour from England they could get together to make a kringle.
Now that I have my First Wisconsin Thanksgiving menu all planned out, I need an authentic location to eat it. Does anyone know where I can rent a Wigwam? Preferably one with heat?