Monday, April 15, 2024

A 40-Year Tradition: Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia

In Jamestown Settlement’s re-created fort, a historical interpreter mixes ingredients for period recipes
prepared over an open hearth. (Image courtesy of Visit Williamsburg.)

WILLIAMSBURG — Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present 40 years of tradition with Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia, celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday by digging into historical “foodways” that connect cultures through centuries-old cooking techniques and culinary practices.

The special weekend event will be held on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 24 and 25.

According to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation (JYF), Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia first began in 1983 as a fall harvest festival at both museums, formerly known as Jamestown Festival Park and the Yorktown Victory Center.

Four decades later, the two history museums have kept this seasonal tradition alive through hands-on demonstrations that explore traditional cooking techniques of early Virginia and cultural influences that inspired new “American” cuisine.

At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, dishes line tables at the Revolution-era farm kitchen as
a historical interpreter stokes a fire over an open hearth. (Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation photo)
Early Virginians prepared meals in clay pots and iron kettles and preserved food by smoking and salt curing. Visitors will be able to discover:
  • Jamestown Settlement: How food was gathered, preserved and prepared on land and at sea by Virginia’s Powhatan Indians, English colonists and West Central Africans.
  • American Revolution Museum at Yorktown: How Continental Army soldiers earned their rations and farmers, free and enslaved, transformed a bounty of crops into stews, pies and breads and preserved food for the winter ahead.
Visitors will also be able to explore period recipes throughout the event and access a curated selection of dishes online at jyfmuseums.org/recipes.
JYF notes while historical food preparation in the outdoor living-history areas during Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia is for demonstration purposes only, a selection of modern fare will be available during museum hours at the Jamestown Settlement Café and 1781 Café by Aromas.
For more information, visit jyfmuseums.org/foodsandfeasts.

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