Written by Aja Johnson, CNN
From turkey to ham, pilgrims and the colonists who made the feast possible marked the conclusion of their much-documented five-month journey from England to America. But it was actually Italian Protestants and the Spanish who held onto the Thanksgiving day tradition after settling in North America, according to an Italian-American Heritage Month book by Long Island’s Rosemary Butterfield and published by the Little White Horse Press.
“It was at a roundtable dinner held at the home of the Seneca husband and wife here in Syracuse,” said Butterfield, a cultural historian who writes about Italian-American history and culture. She said this dinner, which the Senecas hosted for the return of an Italian priest in 1662, formed the foundation of the “excruciatingly slow, tedious, neglectful, European bureaucracy” that prevented the colonists from being able to do the same thing for the Indians.
More than 500 years later, we’re still on the hunt for that dish with a wordless name in the African diaspora. The ones that have been brought home to our kitchens speak to our identity as Americans.