Thanksgiving and its History
We’re never to old to learn, so, let’s talk about my family Thanksgiving in 2018 and the history of Thanksgiving dating back to 1607.
The old cliché holiday which boasts ‘so much to be thankful for’ was once again upon our doorstep. It was already Thanksgiving season and I was not at all prepared. In part, perhaps due to the fact that our son would not be with us, due to military commitment, and in other, my American family is 6,000 miles away. Their celebrations took place on the traditional day, while I extended our celebration to Saturday. The weather’s been dark, foggy, cold and wet here the past week, but the sun shone for us on Saturday.
I worked in the kitchen and began preparing the day before, as many of us do. I decided to do the desserts on Friday, which would be the cheesecake, and the spicy pumpkin pie. Additionally, I made the cranberry salad. I recruited some helpers from the family to peel the potatoes, and carrots, then I sautéed my green beans with bacon and the mushrooms for the gravy. Saturday (the day of), all I would need to do is the stuffing, and the bird itself.
Story of the Pilgrims
To most of us American’s, we’ve been fed the story of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth and blessing the Native American’s with the basic presence of their arrival. Life would become easier, more tame and domesticated if the Pilgrims had any say to it. However, since 1970 over 350 years after the first Jamestown celebration, “The United American Indians of New England” have labeled this day a National Day of Mourning. It’s actually an official celebration, that’s been taking place for over 45 years, and this is the first I’ve heard of it, in 2018. These are the elusive facts kept out of the history books. The truth is, the white men brought the disease, small pox, and prejudice along with their unwanted arrival. I would be hostile too, but instead, the Natives shared their crops, their meats, their furs, and did everything they could to help keep this small colony of visitors alive.
The white people arrived essentially ill-prepared. They seemed to have set sail from a hostile England not planning for the unfortunate possibilities they fell into. Bad weather throwing them of couse, diminishing food supplies, sickness, death, and arriving at the beginning of a winter season. American history, like many histories of the world is skewed. It’s in the favor of the white man, and it portrays the Natives as wild, un-tamable beasts. It’s a heartbreak if we unveil the true history. Yet, knowing what we know, we still choose to celebrate our ‘taught’ version of Thanksgiving.
Family sitting together
To me, Thanksgiving is just another day of the year, really. It doesn’t signify the banging of the inflated chest of the white-man, but rather, in today’s era, it signifies family sitting together, breaking bread. Putting our own personal differences aside with one another, and recognizing that we’re all in this together. Perhaps our “Thanksgiving” is more like the French Bastille day, where over 200 years ago, the French took back their country from the out of touch Monarchs which ruled their lands and starved their people. I would support a ‘give-back’ of the land to the Natives.
I know my land which we own in California was once belonging to the Gabilian Indians. We’ve heard of the nomadic habits and lifestyles lived by these local natives, but it’s all been plowed under and washed away, all but forgotten. To you my Native people, I salute you. Your bravery, your courage, your wisdom will never be forgotten by me, someone well aware of the true history of the Americas. I’m a passer-through on your great lands and I humbly thank you for this opportunity as well as the positive energy which imbues every ounce of your presence.
I’ve been told from a historian of American History, that the traditional “Plymouth” table was filled with fish, grains, and the Fall harvest. Today, all we have to do is travel to our local Whole Foods Market to pick an already killed turkey wrapped in plastic, and bring it home to prepare. We’re so far gone from our tradition, thus marking Thanksgiving, or T.G., or Turkey Day, basically a consumer-ridden holiday. Now we even watered down the holiday to mark the eve before and call it “Black Friday”. Sadly, Black Friday made it 6000 miles across the pond to Europe. This year, was the most publicized Black Friday of Europe’s history.
“Ignore it” I tell myself. The preparations of this (not-so) traditional meal was at least, a nice distraction from modern practices of ‘black Friday’. I’m not sure if we’re continuing a tradition of our dark history, or starting new traditions with our own family. One thing is for certain, there’s always room for change, improvement and evolution. Start your own tradition. Forget the pressures of the existing. Like Charles Darwin believed, in order for evolution to really occur, it takes several generations. It may take me a few generations to evolve from the turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and more… but at least the history is clear to me. Let evolution begin…I’ll await the future!
Stuffed Organic, local grown Turkey (5.2 kg, about 11 lbs.) We thanked and praised her before we roasted her.
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Organic mashed potatoes
- Stuffing: filled with fresh organic bread, sausage, and chicken hearts
- Organic Green beans, sautéed with bacon and onions
- Mashed organic carrots
- Organic Cranberry Salad
- Gravy with Organic Crimini Mushrooms
- Dessert: Pumpkin Pie & Cheese Cake
The Results: Quite happy with the meal. The turkey cooked on convection setting @ 170 C. for about 2 hours. We took the turkey out, and let it stand in the rack, covered in foil for about 30 minutes.
While the turkey sat and continued to meld the juices and flavors, it was time to heat the side dishes and begin the gravy. I took the same pan that I cooked the turkey in, strained the drippings, added fresh stock.
This was previously prepared with the neck, gizzards and stock vegetables to create an incredibly flavorful and rich stock.
I whisked it over the heat from the stove, made a rue of cornstarch, and continued to whisk until it thickened up. When it was nice and thick, I added the previously sautéed mushrooms.