A Thanksgiving in Plymouth
Let me take you back to a Thanksgiving that was important both personally and historically. This Thanksgiving took place the city of Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom.
In 1620, the Mayflower set off from Plymouth to journey to the New World. When the brave voyagers’ ship came ashore in America, they named the landing place: Plymouth Colony. The survivors of the journey were so grateful they celebrated with a feast which evolved into what we know today as Thanksgiving. On a chilly November morning, several years ago, I stood on that piece of land where the Mayflower set sail. I realized how lucky I was to have the opportunity as a U.S. citizen to visit the birthplace of American History.
The day began when four shipmates celebrating the holiday together walked of the quarterdeck of the USS Elrod and hopped into a taxi and headed towards town. The cab was black and had a retro look, kind of like something you would see in 1960’s England. We were told by the cabbie that the town of Plymouth had something fun in store for us Yanks and we should have a good time.
As a tribute to the United States and the 40 towns named Plymouth across the globe, the city of Plymouth, UK holds a four day festival, which typically starts the same Thursday we celebrate our Thanksgiving and lasts through the weekend. Kicking off the event, the American Flag is raised at the Plymouth, UK city hall, a wreath laying ceremony is conducted at the Mayflower Departure point, followed by guest speakers, historical reenactments, words from the mayor and a performance of the Star Spangled Banner. There is also a big push to welcome all Americans that are currently in the United Kingdom at the time.
Most of the pubs and restaurants have conformed to typical American dishes served all day (Burgers & Fries – that day they call them fries not chips), and a more traditional “Thanksgiving Day” meal in the evenings to include turkey with all the fixings.
After some sightseeing around town, my friends and I found ourselves at a Tanners Restaurant for our Thanksgiving Feast. The best way to describe the restaurant, would be to imagine yourself as a character in the Game of Thrones entering the dining room of a castle or keep. Walls of stone from floor to ceiling created an initial cold and rustic look, but was immediately contrasted by the elegant table settings and the strategic placement of modern art. The menu for this evening was based on an American Thanksgiving, with a few elegant variations to traditional dishes, which were executed in very good taste. The meal began with a roasted parsnip and celeriac soup which sweet earthy flavor and aroma still lingers with me today. Following the soup was a free range turkey which included a generous cut of breast and leg with bread stuffing, and sided with potatoes gratin and buttered vegetables. The meal was completed with a pumpkin crème brulee, which took the classic dessert and elevated it with the perfect combination of pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
As I look back at my time in Plymouth, I realize that even though I was away from my family and my home for the holiday, the opportunity to visit Plymouth at Thanksgiving was a once in a lifetime opportunity that created a memory for a lifetime. Making the best of a not-so-good situation has helped me in many aspects of my life. I am thankful for that. Happy Holidays Everybody!!