The following article, by Mariette Bowles, was printed in the November 1941 issue of American Cookery Magazine.
Each year at Thanksgiving time everyone quite properly honors the memories of the Pilgrim Fathers who gave the original idea, and of Abraham Lincoln, who made it a national affair. But another and equally important influence seldom receives sufficient recognition--Sarah Josepha Hale, remembered as the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, but infrequently recalled as the woman who put Thanksgiving Day into every American home.
New Hampshire Thanksgiving
The Thanksgiving dinner which one of them attended must have impressed him as much as it does a modern reader. Perhaps you think you have eaten noteworthy meals yourself. But by Northwood standards almost any contemporary fare seems scant indeed. There was, as you would expect, roast turkey with savory dressing. There were the customary "innumerable bowls of gravy and vegetables." But this was only the beginning. Besides them on the table sat a "surloin" of beef, a leg of pork, a joint of mutton, a goose and a pair of duckling.
Yankee Pies of Every Name
Pickles, preserves and butter are barely noted in passing, as are "plumb" pudding and custard. There were pies of every name and description ever known in Yankeeland, yet the pumpkin pie occupied the most important niche. All this was accompanied by cider, ginger beer (of which Squire Romelee's wife was especially proud.) and currant wine. The meal was concluded with an assortment of rich cake, sweetmeats and fruit.
It was in 1827 that Northwood was published, nearly forty years before its author persuaded Abraham Lincoln to issue the first Thanksgiving Proclamation, a custom that succeeding presidents have followed faithfully.
She began writing to governors of the separate states, urging them to issue their own proclamations. This she did for several years, until finally she convinced Abraham Lincoln of the value of such a holiday to the nation as a whole. Om 1864 he proclaimed the last Thursday in November a day of national Thanksgiving. One of the "lady's editors" dearest ambitions had been realized.
America's Own Dish
Louise here:) The final excerpt for today's post from the "Thanksgiving Lady" story speaks to today's "national" day; Indian Pudding Day.
In The Story of Corn, author Betty Fussell uncovers the mysterious appearance of Indian Pudding for the first time in writing on March 26, 1722.
back to the story...
As a woman of familiar with "the best receipts of all the nations in the world," she devotes a great deal of her attention to dishes which are peculiarly American. Indian cakes, maize pudding (both the boiled and the baked), pumpkin, squash, and carrot pies are among the foods she lists as being native American--and delicious. "Plain Baked Indian Pudding" is one of her favorites. This seems to her to satisfy perfectly the three standards that she sets for good food; that it meets the standards of economy, health and taste.
I will continue on with part two of the "Thanksgiving Lady" and The Honored Pumpkin Pie on Wednesday. In the mean time, I harvested a Thanksgiving menu from The American Heritage Cookbook compiled by the editors of American Heritage Magazine for you to enjoy:)
For those of you who would like to try your hand at preparing Indian Pudding for each of your guests, here is a bit of a commentary once again from Betty Fussell in I Hear America Cooking.
Happy Indian Pudding Day!
1. Northwood (online @ google books)
2. The Good Housekeeper: or, The Way to Live Well and to be Well While We Live ... By Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (Google books)
3. Mrs. Hale's Receipts for the Million (available online)
4. Godey's Arm Chair: Thanksgiving as a National Holiday
5. The Story of Corn (google books limited viewing)
1. Crockpot Indian Pudding
2. Hasty Pudding - Indian Pudding