Creative Holiday Event Ideas: This Thanksgiving, Throw a Pilgrim Party

How to serve up a unique and authentic Thanksgiving meal your guests will never forget.

This Thanksgiving, give your family and guests a unique experience that is sure to impress. Host a Thanksgiving meal that’s true to the history and culture of those famous inhabitants of the New World.

Strange as it may sound, our current "traditional" Thanksgiving meal is really anything but traditional. From the turkey to the pumpkin pie, what most of us eat on Thanksgiving Day is very different to what the Pilgrims ate nearly four hundred years ago. So, what are the ingredients to a unique and authentic Thanksgiving celebration?

First – What’s for dinner?

• Turkey still works, but that’s been done to death. Waterfowl, like duck, was plentiful back then. So shake up the current tradition and serve duck, or goose, or partridge.

• Mussels. This type of shellfish was prominent in Pilgrim meals (although an acceptable substitute would be lobster, clams or cod).

• If you like game, historical accounts show that venison was most certainly brought to the table by the Native Americans.

• In lieu of stuffing, serve up some cornbread – as this was a truly common food.

• Curds (yes, as in curds and whey). This is a very tasty cheese. You can tell if the curds are really fresh if they squeak when you chew them.

• Vegetables: Choose cabbage, onions, peas, radishes, carrots and squash

• Fruits: Opt for plums and grapes

Foods to Forget:

Cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes may be delicious – and you can’t imagine a Thanksgiving meal without them – but they were most certainly NOT at the first Thanksgiving.

Spice it up:

Pilgrims may have a rather bland reputation, but they definitely had an eclectic palate. Included in the list of the spices they used are: cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, pepper and dried fruit. So in selecting recipes for your unique Thanksgiving dishes, try to find those that incorporate one or more of these spices.

When to Dine?

Well you’ve got a nice range of time to choose from. The first Thanksgiving celebration wasn’t just done on one day. The festivities lasted for almost a week. So by having your authentic Pilgrim Party the weekend before Thanksgiving Day, it will be a nice start to the Thanksgiving season, and surely something your guests will talk about at their upcoming Thanksgiving meals.

Serving Style:

This may sound familiar to your “normal” Thanksgiving meal. At that first get-together, all the food was placed out on the tables at once (not in separate courses). This should be good news to you, the party host. Letting all the food be placed out at once gives you the opportunity to stay in the dining room with your guests, instead of making multiple trips to and from the kitchen.

Break the Rules:

If you want to strictly be true to the first Thanksgiving meal, then you will have no cookies, cakes or pies. The reason? Sugar. The supply of sugar that English colonists brought over on the Mayflower would have surely run out by the time of their first Thanksgiving. Plus with no ovens to speak of, the Pilgrims did not make those tasty deserts we're used to eating this time of year. So forget about about being completely authentic when it comes to dessert. Go ahead and serve up your grandma’s favorite apple pie or delicious sugar cookies. Your guests will surely forgive this instance of historical inaccuracy!

Throwing a "Pilgrim Party", a meal of simple foods of our past, is great way to connect with the men and women who came over on the Mayflower as well as the Native Americans who helped these new immigrants adapt to their New World. An opportunity to get a taste of history... by literally getting a taste of history.


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