What were the Northwest natives eating Thanksgiving night?

What were the Northwest natives eating Thanksgiving night?

ALBANY, Ore. -- Matt Bennett is a historian who also happens to be an award-winning chef. 

He uses his passion for history at his restaurant, Sybaris, in downtown Albany.  Bennett enjoys cooking with local ingredients used by Native Americans 400 years ago.

Acorns, for instance.

"If you have like an oatmeal-sized portion of an acorn porridge, you'll be full for the whole day," Bennett said. 

Those acorns also happen to be gluten-free.

Now to the camas -- a root that takes five days to cook.

"It's got almost a caramelized onion, sweet potato European chestnut thing going," he said.

The rest isn't so crazy -- crab apples, huckleberries, fiddlehead ferns that are tasty when pickled.

Seafood was often served.  No wild turkeys were to be found, but maybe deer, or rabbit if the tribes were lucky enough to catch them.

And, no salt.

"If you grow up without eating it, you don't know what you're missing," Bennett said.

One thing's for sure -- the food was plentiful this time of year.  Across the country, the folks coming off the Mayflower struggled without the natives' help.

"They were city people that all of a sudden came to a place that, to them, was very desolate," Bennett says of the pilgrims.

He celebrates the past, but he's also looking forward.  Bennett believes that thanks to conservation, this food could exist in another 400 years.

But in the eyes of the natives, that may not be a big deal.

"When you're talking a 10,000 year history, 400 (years) is just a little bit," he said.

This story originally came from our partners at Willamette Week. You can read their article here.