Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 at 6:05 am in Thanksgiving.
Traditions rank pretty high for me when it comes to holidays, but not necessarily because of their ties to the past. Carrie Franzwa is the exact opposite. Bored with Thanksgiving, she dug into the roots of the holidays and now would put most of us to shame when it comes to trying to relive an authentic First Thanksgiving experience. Franzwa’s family dress the parts, cook in an outdoor fire pit and even use replicated place settings from 1621. Her expertise, along with how-to instructions for trying this yourself, are part of the book, “The American Patriot’s Treasury of Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas” (Booksurge Publishing, $19.95).
Franzwa also provides tips in an online article for “Thanksgiving Time Travel under $50.” I’m not much for dressing up (Halloween and I aren’t exactly tight anymore) and I could never master cooking over an open flame while camping, but some of Franzwa’s ideas are pretty interesting. In particular, I like the idea of ditching the salt and pepper shakers and trying a communal salt dip — it sounds like a great way to keep the kids entertained. For a closer look at creating Old World table settings, continue reading…
An English place setting has many of the essentials we’re used to today, except for a fork. In 1621, the colonists ate using a sharp-tipped knife. Naturally, we don’t recommend this for the young ones. The wooden bowl and wooden/pewter plate are easy to come by, but you’ll probably have a harder time landing a pewter mug. (Franzwa purchased hers on eBay, not all at the same time.) Also, here you see a linen napkin, but for a really authentic experience, you would need to create English serviette napkins (yep, the kind that you wear — you can find directions on how to make one in Franzwa’s online article.
The Native Wampanoag table setting is far more difficult to recreate. For starters, the dish is a turtle shell — and for health and sanitation reasons, using one of these is not recommended. Instead, Franza suggests finding an imitation turtle shell. The other two items are easy to find: a wooden spoon and flint knife.