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Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia

November 22-24, 2018
Explore Centuries-Old Cooking Techniques at Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Preparing 17th-century dishes at Jamestown Settlement Long before microwaves, electric stoves and refrigerators, food was prepared in clay pots and iron kettles over hot coals and preserved by smoking and salt curing. This Thanksgiving holiday, explore foodways of 17th- and 18th-century Virginia during “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia,” a three-day event beginning on Thanksgiving Day.

Jamestown Settlement

Powhatan Indian village stew at Jamestown SettlementDiscover how food was gathered, preserved and prepared on land and at sea by Virginia’s English colonists and Powhatan Indians.

In the re-created Powhatan Indian village, visitors can see venison, turkey and other game roast over an open fire, while stews of corn, beans and squash cook in clay pots. A daily program at 2 p.m. will show the importance of corn to the Powhatan Indians and the variety of dishes in which it was used, including corncakes and corn dumplings. Throughout the day, visitors also can learn how Powhatan Indians made stone and bone tools used to obtain and prepare food and take in a 10 a.m. program on Powhatan hunting techniques.

Within the re-created 1610-14 fort, food preparation will reflect the culinary skills English colonists brought to Virginia. Historical interpreters will bake bread in a cloame oven at 1 p.m. on all three days and throughout the event will demonstrate open-hearth cooking of pudding, pies and pottage, based on historical Baking in Jamestown Settlement's fortrecipes of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Museum visitors also can experience European military tactics and drills near the fort during a daily program at 4 p.m.

At the ships’ pier, a special program at 3 p.m. each day allows visitors to haul cargo from a replica of one of the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607 to learn how the colony was provisioned. Throughout the day, visitors can explore typical sailors’ fare of salted fish, biscuit and dried foods and try making the most common food – a ship biscuit. A daily program on celestial navigation at 12 noon will explore how 17th-century sailors steered by the stars.

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown camp rations

Visitors to the re-created Continental Army encampment can learn about meager rations of dried beans, salted meat and hard bread that soldiers had to try to turn into nourishing soups and stews. Daily artillery drills will show visitors how soldiers earned their rations. Plundering and theft sometimes occurred when rations were scarce, and a daily program at 2 p.m. will illustrate the consequences.

At the re-created Revolution-period farm, visitors can witness the bounty of field and garden transformed into stews, pies and breads. A variety of dishes will be prepared daily until 4 p.m. in the farm kitchen using 18th-century open-hearth cooking techniques and recipes. At 4 p.m. each day, visitors can learn about 18th-century herbal remedies for indigestion.

Food preparation in the museums’ outdoor living-history areas is for demonstration purposes only.

Thanksgiving Dinner in the Jamestown Settlement Cafe

The Jamestown Settlement Cafe will offer a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, offered on a first-com, first-served basis, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, November 22.

Holiday Tickets, Tours & Packages

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown farm roast chickencombination ticket – available online only – offers seven days of unlimited admission to both museums at $25.50 for adults and $12.25 for ages 6 through 12. Additional multi-attraction holiday ticket and package options are available.

A combination ticket for one visit to both museums is $25.50 for adults and $12.25 for ages 6-12, a 20 percent savings on individual museum admission. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $17.00 for adults and $8.00 for ages 6-12, and to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, $15.00 for adults and $7.50 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free.

Holiday Shopping in Museum Stores

In time for holiday shopping, museum gift shops offer a selection of books, prints, museum reproductions, educational toys, games and souvenirs relating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Admission is not required to visit the museum gift shops, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Shop online.