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A Feast at Plimoth

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Superfoods

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TEACHING GUIDES


ABOUT ALL YOU CAN EAT:
A Feast at Plimoth Plantation


The year is 1627. The English settlers living at Plimoth Plantation are enjoying a feast to celebrate the arrival of visitors from Europe. As Frontiers host Alan Alda finds out, the settlers living here do not enjoy a festive meal like this one very often. The typical fare is cabbage potage and bread. In the 17th century, rich foods were enjoyed infrequently, yet in today's world, rich foods have become commonplace -- a shift in diet and eating habits that may have troubling consequences for 20th-century bodies.

Curriculum Links
Activity 1: Feasts in Ancient Times
Contest Idea/Activity 2: Prepare a New World Feast



CURRICULUM LINKS

BIOLOGY

genetics, native plants
HISTORY

Colonial America
HOME ARTS

cooking methods,
food preparation


LANGUAGE ARTS

communications, English,
living history, theater
LIFE SCIENCE

diet and nutrition,
life-styles
SOCIAL STUDIES

American history,
Native Americans



ACTIVITY 1: FEASTS IN ANCIENT TIMES

What is a typical feast? The answer differs from culture to culture and age to age. What we think of as a modern feast is quite different from feasts of ancient times. Here are some of the foods people ate long before the era of take-out pizza and fast foods.

In 500 B.C., breakfast in Greece consisted of bread, olives, cheese and olive oil for the bread. At festive meals, the Greeks enjoyed fruits, especially pomegranates, figs, apples and pears, while the everyday dinner may have been simply barley porridge, bread or fish. Figs appeared at nearly every meal, but the only sweetener was honey. Wealthy people could afford bread made from wheat, while the poor ate bread made of barley. In about 800 A.D., Greeks learned the secret of making yogurt from Bulgarians. In the latter days of Greek civilization, fish, locusts and pork became popular items on the menu.

The Romans had a saying about their feasts: Ab ovo usque ad mala. Translated literally, this means, "from the egg to the apple," since Roman dinners often started with eggs and ended with fruit. Although Romans in the early days dined on grains and different vegetables, including wild mushrooms and turnips, Roman banquets later became famous for their excesses. Dinners might have begun with appetizers of jellyfish and eggs, boiled tree fungi or sea urchins. Guests might have dined on such specialties as boiled ostrich, ham, flamingo and venison. Dessert included such delicacies as dates stuffed with pine nuts fried in honey.



CONTEST IDEA/ACTIVITY 2: PREPARE A NEW WORLD FEAST!
At least 60% of the food eaten in the world today comes from plants originally domesticated by Native Americans.

  • Prepare a menu or a dish for a feast or special occasion using only foods native to the Americas. To keep it simple, make it a vegetarian meal. Your choices can include: cranberries, acorn squash, corn, potatoes, peanuts, tomatoes, peppers, wild rice, pineapples, avocados, lima beans, sunflowers, chocolate, pumpkin.

  • You can turn this activity into a contest. The winner is the person (or team) who uses the most native foods, or other criteria you devise. If you wish, include a rule that foods must be in their natural state (for example, no peanut butter). Good luck, and send us your results!


IF YOU GO TO PLIMOTH PLANTATION . . .

As you saw on Frontiers, the settlers at Plimoth Plantation did not always eat fancy fare. While the feast menu included several meats, game birds and white bread, ordinary meals were much different.

You can see for yourself how the early colonists lived if you visit Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, where it is always the 17th century. At Plimoth, you can converse with the "Pilgrims," costumed interpreters steeped in history who speak the English language as it was spoken then. For information on visiting Plimoth Plantation, call 800-USA-1620 or 508-746-1622. Plimoth offers a special Thanksgiving meal to visitors, but it must be reserved in advance.








 

Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.