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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ancestral food for the holidays

The holiday season is upon us here in the states.  Thanksgiving is this week and then there are all the holidays that fall between now and January for the countless religions found here.  One thing that always strikes me during this time, and makes me especially proud and thankful, are the service members who give up their time with their families.

After I left for college my mom would volunteer for holiday duty.  It was just her and dad, no kids at home, and even if I did show up for a visit my experience was not ruined because she pulled call at the hospital.  I got it.  She did what she did so those other doctors could have time at home with their children and make memories.

Last Thursday I gave a lecture to the Fairfax Genealogical Society on using naval records for genealogical use, particularly those from the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC).  In the course of my research for the lecture I found a little gem tucked away in their digital archives.  Menus from the 20th century of holiday and special occasion meals that were served on ships or bases.  I was in heaven for a few hours as I read through what there sailors and other personnel ate on those days so many years ago.

I love looking at the social history and this, the food, can be one of the biggest social history finds!  What our ancestors ate was nothing like what we eat today.  Something they considered staples we avoid like the plague.  Below are a few of the "Menus From Ship to Shore" I found that I thought were particularly interesting.  I hope you do too!

U.S.S. Kentucky, 1907
Thanksgiving Dinner

Oyester Soup, Crackers
Roast Turkey, Giblet Gravy
Oyster Dressing, Cranberry Sauce
Sliced Smithfield Ham
Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Corn
Green Peas, Mince Pies
Ice Cream, Fruit Cake
Apples, Bananas, Grapes
Mixed Nuts, Raisins
Cigars, Cigarettes

U.S.S. Arizona  29 November 1917
Thanksgiving Dinner

Oyster Cocktail
Soups:  Cream of Chicken, Tomato
Relishes: Celery, Sweet Pickles
Entrees: Spiced Virginia Ham, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Caper Sauce
Roasts: Princess Anne Turkey, Giblet Gravy, Oyster Dressing, Baked New Potatoes, Asparagus Tips, Cranberry Sauce
Salads: Combination Fruit, Mayonnaise
Desserts: Mince Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Oranges, Apples, Bananas, Assorted Nuts

U.S.S. Case, Navy Yard, Philadephia, PA, 1929
Thanksgiving Dinner

Roast Vermont Turkey
Sweet Pickles, Fancy Celery
Cream of Celery Soup
Giblet Gravy, Oyster Dressing
Cranberry Sauce, Creamed Pes
Candied Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes
Mince Pie
Erick Ice Cream, Cake
Mixed Nuts
Oranges, Apples
Cigars, Cigarettes
Demi Tasse

U.S.S. Craven, 24 November 1938

Thanksgiving Day

Stuffed Olives, Sweet Pickles, Sweet Relish
Cream of Tomato Soup
Roast Tom Turkey, Sage Dressing
Giblet Gravy, Cranberry Sauce
Candied Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes
Creamed Peas, Buttered Asparagus
Lettuce Tomato Salad
Ice Cream, Fruit Cake
Cigarettes, Mixed Nuts, Cigars

U.S.S Iowa, 25 November 1943
Thanksgiving Dinner

Citrus Fruit Coctail [sic] Maraschino
Hearts of Kalamazoo Celery, Pimento Stuffed Olives
California Ripe Olives
Essence of Tomato Bouillon, Lemon
Jellied Fruit Mold
French Dressing
Roast Young Vermont Turkey
Cranberry Jelly, Piquant Dressing
Giblet Gravy
Snowflake Potatoes, Mashed Sweet Potatoes
New Peas in Butter
Hot Cheese Biscuits
Old Fashioned Mince Pies

Naval Air Station Norfolk, 27 November 1958
Thanksgiving Dinner

Chilled Tomato Coup
Turkey Gumbo Soup, Backed Spiced Ham
Whole Cranberry Sauce, Hawaiian Pineapple Sauce
Apple and Rasin Bread Dressing
Country Syle Giblet Gravy
Snow White Potatoes, Candied Sweet Potatoes
Buttered Golden Grain Corn, Tender Asparagus Tips
Individual Salad Selections
Assorted Olives, Sweet Mixed Pickles
Raw Salad Bar
Hot Parker House Rolls, Butter Chips
Pumpkin Pie, Fruit Cake, Glazed Mincemeat Pie
Chilled Fresh Fruits
Assorted Mixed Nuts
Hard Candy
Cigarettes, Cigars
Hot Coffee, Fresh Milk, Chocolate Milk

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