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Scarlet's Web - #2

(Published Nov. 2008, The Spirit newspaper, Philadelphia)

'Tis the season to stuff and get stuffed. Happy Thanksgiving!

Ever wonder what the pilgrims and their Native American guests really ate at the first feast? Contrary to popular belief, they didn't sit down to a meal featuring turkey, corn, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (in fact, they didn't even have forks!). Visit http://www.historychannel.com/exhibits/thanksgiving/main.html for a fascinating look at the culinary history of the holiday. You can also tune in to virtual interviews with pilgrims Myles Standish and Ellinor Billington in which they field questions, in their thick seventeenth-century dialects, about their perspective on the harvest feast of 1621.

For an alternate view, tune into NPR's "A Native American's Chef's Thanksgiving" (go to www.NPR.org, and enter "Thanksgiving" in the search box). NPR talks to Chief Flying Eagle of the Mashpee Wampanoags. The Wampanoags broke bread with the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving in 1621, on Plymouth Plantation. Learn more about traditional Wampanoag cooking and what was eaten that first Thanksgiving.

For those of you more interested in the present than in the past, and more pointedly, how to create the perfect Thanksgiving repast, there are a plethora of online goodies to show you the way. Allrecipes.com (http://thanksgiving.allrecipes.com/default.asp) offers over 1,500 delicious Thanksgiving recipes, menu ideas, vegetarian alternatives, and every conceivable turkey cooking method. If like me, you are rather cooking-challenged, click to the Food Network (http://www.foodnetwork.com/) for step-by-step video guides on everything from how to carve a turkey, making pie dough, to folding festive-looking napkins. It's like having your personal culinary teacher in your own home!

Epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/) offers you the ultimate Thanksgiving Survival Guide including frequently asked questions to every Thanksgiving dilemma and how to serve your meal without last minute kitchen chaos! Indeed, Epicurious makes preparing for Thanksgiving sound more like trying to avert a hideous disaster than simply celebrating an American holiday with loved ones.

The ever faithful web is also there to help entertain the kids long enough to keep them out of the kitchen so you can whip up your superlative feast. The Kid's Domain Web site (http://www.kidsdomain.com/holiday/thanks/) offers wonderful and educational activities to get your kids into the Thanksgiving spirit. Enjoy an assortment of online games including a Thanksgiving history quiz, silly Thanksgiving riddles, puzzles and crosswords. For smaller kids, there are pictures to print out and color, and for the whole family there are creative games, arts and crafts projects and more.

Finally, find out what is going on throughout Philadelphia for the Thanksgiving holiday. Digital City Philadelphia (http://www.digitalcity.com/philadelphia/) will keep you informed on all the holiday goings-on including 6ABC's Boscov's Thanksgiving Parade, and the annual Turkey Trot.

Comments/Questions: email scarletweb1@hotmail.com