We all know that Thanksgiving dessert is all about the pie. But what if it wasn’t? What if we tried something a little closer to the reality of that original Thanksgiving, when no one had a deep-dish Pyrex or even an oven? It’s far more likely that dessert at the first Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t pumpkin pie but Indian pudding, a homespun cornmeal-and-molasses creation fashioned after the Native Americans’ supawn. Colonists at Plymouth, Massachusetts, were likely looking to re-create some familiar comfort foods from Mother England, but lacking the wheat flour or oats that comprised their staple hasty pudding, they made do with cornmeal, courtesy of their friendly new Native American neighbors. Hence the name “Indian Pudding.”
There are many misconceptions about Thanksgiving. Chief among those is the widely held notion that Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and food, good times and happy meals together, plus some football. Nope. In reality, Thanksgiving is a celebration of survival. Of eating and not being eaten. Of not freezing to death. Of not dying from a ingrown toenail or “catarrh”–whatever that is.
I like family and food as much as the next guy (football not so much), but I really dig surviving. I like waking up. I like feeling better. And I like not being eaten. You too? I thought so.
So this year, I’d like to celebrate survival by helping you traverse the treacherous waters of holiday stress and mayhem. Can we agree that hosting Thanksgiving Dinner–especially if you find yourself solely responsible for it–is right up there with facing down a charging bear or trying to survive a six-month winter in a tent, gnawing on fish jerky and hardtack. [I mean, in terms of the cortisol explosion going on in your body. Obviously, facing a bear may be preferable to hosting two dozen family members with high expectations, assorted food allergies, and picky palates.]
You will survive. I will give you recipes, tips, maybe a giveaway or two…we’ll get through this together. And on Thanksgiving Day, we will sit and eat the bounty of our season of survival with everyone else, and we’ll smile and stuff our faces and take a day off of fighting-and-flighting to simply enjoy ourselves…before we buckle down once again, girding our loins and our larders to face the harrowing struggle of the yuletide season.
Now, go fix yourself a Hot Buttered Rum and put your feet up. You need your strength.