Mark Twain’s Thanksgiving looked nothing like the meal you’re having tomorrow—or, for that matter, like the one the Pilgrims had with the Wampanoag. The difference? Those bygone American tables would have been filled with wild game, Andrew Beahrs writes in the New York Times. Twain wrote with relish of frogs, woodcock, and canvasback ducks, all taken from corners of the American wilderness.
Twain appreciated wild food for its varied flavors. For the Pilgrims, it was the surest way to survive. The first feast’s food—which almost certainly lacked the too-clever wild turkey—was taken primarily from the “bountiful, yet intensely threatening natural world.” Neither could have imagined our domesticated modern world, devoid of such bounties. We must preserve what’s left. “Losing wild food,” Beahrs argues, “means losing part of the landscape of our lives.”