The first Thanksgiving was held sometime between September and November in the year 1621 in the Plymouth colony of Massachusetts. Rest assured, it was nothing like we think of it today!
Of the 102 pilgrims who survived the crossing of the Mayflower, and the following barren winter, only 53 survived. In the English custom of celebrating a successful harvest, a feast was planned, and 90 Wampanoag Indians were in attendance.
Many myths surround the first Thanksgiving. Very little is actually known about the event because only two firsthand accounts of the feast were ever written.
The first account is William Bradford’s journal titled Of Plymouth Plantation and the other is a publication written by Edward Winslow titled Mourt’s Relations.
On the menu were many types of fowl and deer, but only guesses can be made as to what else based on the types of food they often wrote about such as mussels, lobsters, grapes, plums, corn and herbs. Assuredly there were no potatoes, no green beans, no mac-n-cheese, and no pies! (There was no flour or butter in use at this time) The pilgrims hadn’t even built their first oven by the time of the first Thanksgiving. Cranberries might have been served but only for color or tartness, instead of as a sweet sauce.
There is no actual proof that the colonists ate turkey at the feast either. Turkey wasn’t even associated with the Thanksgiving holiday until 1840. Also it should be noted, it wasn’t an annual event, it only happened just this once. Later, the Pilgrims did hold a “thanksgiving” but it was focused on prayer and fasting.
Abraham Lincoln was the first president to listen to arguments and supported legislation making it a national holiday in 1863. America was in the middle of its bloody Civil War at the time and Lincoln hoped the new holiday would unify the bitterly divided country. The holiday was finally a success and Thanksgiving has continued ever since.
So in the spirit of uniting cultures, we at Brian Beal Moore Catering have imagined a menu that exponentially expands The Feast of Thanksgiving to encircle the globe!
The menu celebrates the flavors from China to Turkey and from Venezuela to Japan, all joining to present a meal of exceptional tastes.
During the social hour porcelain bowls are filled Crispy Chickpeas and silver bowls offer Edamame Dip. A celebratory Pan de Jamón is arranged on a gleaming tray.
The abundant feast’s showpiece are Slow Roasted Long Island Ducks, with Crackling Skin and Jammy Figs. Then we’ve Sticky-Rice Stuffing, Polenta and Parmesan Gratin, a Spicy Cauliflower Tagine, and… so much more! (The complete menu appears at the end of this post!)
The table is eclectically set - with items and objects with a global reach. An Indonesian Ikat linen of saffron yellow plays the base for a centerpiece of built upon a Chinese wooden stand topped with an Indian silver candelabra, a brass vase filled with the plumage of a colorful Macaw, next to a 1950’s German Globe (that is actually a decorative cigarette case!). Two small Spode vases echo the colors of the china by the same maker on the table and the sideboard, all from the United Kingdom.
The plates rest upon Mexican silver chargers and are topped by mismatched napkins from Pierre Deux, of Provence. Each place setting is topped with a small silver vase with additional quills and include matte gold flatware from Thailand. Blue Bohemian cut crystal tumblers are ready to filled with wine, while the chunky yellow water Goblets are from Portugal. For champagne, a tall Austrian tulip glass serves perfectly.
The menu and the table create a peaceful unification ready to share with a bevy of internationals who may well be unacquainted with our delicious American holiday… Thanksgiving! Invite them over, ask them to bring a celebratory dish from their homeland, and set the table accordingly. Remember, the real thanks is in good people, not sweet potatoes.