We had been in NY for about 2 years when we decided to go to Plymouth. We were feeling homesick for Texas, and a little stir crazy, so we thought it would be fun outing to go eat with the Pilgrims and Native Americans. There is a meal that is served at night by candlelight, and the food is as it would have been in the early 1600s. No forks, just knives and spoons. Not a lot of flavoring or seasoning beyond salt and pepper and a few herbs. All in all, it was a pretty bland meal. BUT, it was prepared well and served by people playing the part of Pilgrims. It was a treat to sit with Natives American descendants who attended as honored guests. It was a lovely evening.
After we finished the meal we played some silly games, sang some songs, and had some conversations with our table mates from the present, and from the 1600’s. We left that evening with a profound feeling of awe at what these 17th century folks did, and how gracious the Natives were at these strange new immigrants that did not speak their language, and were not really assimilating to their new environment. What brave people there were at that table . . . on both sides.
It also made me think about how binding food is for sharing our uniqueness and our commonness. To sit at a table with people you don’t know can be a challenge. We have had times when we are a little less than enthusiastic to try something that is considered standard fare in another part of the country or world. Just ask Treva about Boiled Peanuts! But its also a time to laugh and share why we like the foods we like and perhaps share a little about our own heritage too. Treva and I were lucky to grow up with an explorer’s attitude to try new things and new foods. We think we are passing that along as well to others.
At your Thanksgiving table this week (and perhaps in future meals with new folks), we would like to propose that you add a question to you conversation: What flavors, smells and things do you remember when you think of home? I think you will find that this starts a lot of great stories and conversations and perhaps you may try something new, too. I think, both the pilgrims and natives had something similar at their table.
Okra Gumbo is something that Treva introduced me to one Thanksgiving. I didn’t think I would like it, but now I really enjoy it on a cold day. It is also part of her heritage from Louisiana and the LeBleu Family. . . a story she will have to share another time.
John (this time)