April Bloomfield Is Recreating A Thanksgiving Menu From The 1620s

April Bloomfield is recreating a Thanksgiving menu from the 1620s

Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie . . . these might be traditional Thanksgiving dishes, but it's hardly what the pilgrims ate on that fateful day back in 1621. "The Native Americans gave them venison and duck," explains British-born chef April Bloomfield, and taught them to cultivate crops (yeah, we also paid attention in 5th grade history class).

Bloomfield was asked by National Geographic to prepare a three-part menu for a full-blown 1620s-style pub pop-up running today and tomorrow in NYC, to promote their upcoming movie Saints & Strangers, which follows the journey of the pilgrims. Upstairs, the space looks like a classic pub, but downstairs the large room is decked out to feel like the hull of the Mayflower, complete with ship's ropes and a soundtrack of creaking wood and waves.

"They gave me a rough outline of the show, so I had to do a bit of research," Bloomfield explained right before the pub's launch. "I researched the Mayflower, I researched the 1620s, I researched the Native Americans," she says.

She ultimately settled on a menu of stuffed cabbage and pork pie for the Old World. "You can imagine one putting it in their pocket on the way to work or even getting on board the Mayflower," she said. For the Mayflower dishes, Bloomfield's interpretation of salted beef with fermented mustard was probably a step up from the hardtack and rotted food the pilgrims ate on the journey (we'll give her a pass on this one).

As for the Thanksgiving feast, Bloomfield prepared braised duck, three sisters succotash (made with hominy, beans, squash and sorrel), named for the technique Native Americans used to grow them, and raw oysters, which were popular in the early colonies.

Duck for Thanksgiving is familiar for the chef, who says it's her bird of choice for the holiday, roasted with balsamic and lemon and "probably more vegetables than duck." But, this year she'll skip the celebrations to focus on her upcoming project, Salvation Burger. "We should be opening . . . in a couple of weeks . . . so I'm going to be working hard. I'm super looking forward to it. It's been a long time coming, and I'm really happy I'm going to get to sink my teeth into it."

Catch the pop-up at 38 West 26th St. near Sixth Ave., New York City