Thanksgiving, ready or not, the calendar says its next week. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner as we know it today consists of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and green beans. It also consists of plenty of breads and desserts. Yummy!
But, have you ever thought about what the Pilgrims served during the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621? Our history books tell us that the Pilgrims ate a very different meal than we do today. The main course was probably wildfowl such as duck or goose and venison. They also did not have dessert such as pumpkin pie. There were squashes but they did not have flour or butter to make pies. But, what they did have was the “three sisters.”
Now, you might not know what the “three sisters” are. I know I didn’t. As the name implies it does have to do with siblings, sort of. In this case though, it is a trio of veggies. The “three sisters” is corn, beans, and squash. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the veggie trio got its name because the Native Americans planted them together. They never planted one without the other two, together they thrive and become inseparable, just like sisters.
The origin of the “three sisters”
The “three sisters” were the staple of the Native American diet for centuries. They understood that the three plants, a gift from the gods, when planted together created a perfect balance and harmony. All three of the veggies have their own unique attribute that they contribute throughout the growing process. Corn supports the beans. The beans pull nitrogen from the air to enrich the soil. The vines of the squash hold the bean and corn stalks together while its leaves create its own mulch. If you do things right the yield can be plentiful. And, as they say, the rest is history.
So, the rumor is that the Pilgrims, weren’t exactly the best farmers. They relied heavily on the expertise of Squanto, one of the last members of the Patuxet people, to teach them how to farm. He also taught them the principles behind the “three sisters” growing process. The Pilgrims learned quickly. They planted their crops in the spring and by fall there was plenty of food to harvest. To thank God for their bountiful yield they held a feast. A really big feast. After all, the first Thanksgiving was three days long. In addition, alongside the main entrée of wildfowl, they served the “three sisters.” Back then and even today the “three sisters” is a winning combination for any Thanksgiving dinner.
Serving the “three sisters” this Thanksgiving
There are definitely different ways to prepare your holiday meal—traditional, colonial, or a combination of the both. Try complementing your holiday meal this Thanksgiving with a main entrée or side dish using the “three sisters” as the primary ingredient. One thing is for sure the “three sisters” pack a nutritional punch that is both healthy and good for us. Some of the nutritional benefits include fiber, Vitamins A and C, protein, calcium, and starch. Shave a few calories from your Thanksgiving meal this year by serving a healthy dish such as “three sisters” succotash, stew, soup or salad. Your waistline will be thankful that you did.
This Thanksgiving when we are giving thanks for our families, friends, and our new home we need to add in an extra dose of thanks for the “three sisters.” This healthy veggie trio is another important part of our historical past that needs to be celebrated and passed down through the generations.
The Travisso staff wish you a very happy, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.