As you are preparing for your Thanksgiving meal, take a look at Major-General Philip Sheridan's troops' Thanksgiving "bill of fare" in 1868 during the Indian Wars as described by De B Randolph Keim in Menus from History: Historic Meals and Recipes for Every Day of the Year by Janet Clarkson.
Soup - Wild Turkey.
Boiled - Wild Turkey, Buffalo Tongue.
Roast - Buffalo Hump, Wild Turkey, Saddle of Venison.
Red Deer, Common Deer, Antelope. Rabbit.
Entrees - Rabbit Pies, Wings of Grouse, breaded, Turkey Giblets.
Broiled - Quails, Pinnated Grouse.
Vegetables (imported) - Canned Tomatoes, Lima Beans, Dessicated Potatoes.
Bread - 'Hard Tack,' plain and toasted, Army Biscuits.
Desert (imported) - Rice Pudding, Pies and Tarts.
Wines and Liquors - Champagne, 'Pinetop Whiskey,' Ale. (Clarkson, 734)
What does any of this mean? We found out for you!
- Buffalo Hump - We'll save you the gory details of the process and just say it's the entire hump along the vertebrae of the bison (Clarkson, 602).
- Saddle of Venison - Much like the buffalo hump, this is also a segmented area cut along the spine of a deer. "It is taken from the back, between the last rib and the hind legs. (Davidson, 679)."
- Dessicated Potatoes - Potatoes cut into squares or slices and dried. They could then be reused in cooking by adding water, thus hydrating them again. Dessicated vegetables were commonly used by soldiers during the Civil War.
- Hard Tack - Cracker-like squares made from water and flour, and sometimes salt.
- Pinetop Whiskey - Pine needles, pine cones, and twigs were said to have made up this homemade brew (Clarkson, 736).
What's on your menu tomorrow? We hope it'll be tastier, if not quite so meaty, as Sheridan's fare! Have a great Thanksgiving day!
Clarkson, Janet. Menus from History: Historic Meals and Recipes for Every Day of the Year, vol. 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2009. Print.
Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.