TJ's Fresh Seafood market is spinning its lobster promotion this weekend as an antidote to turkey, but it's almost certain Pilgrims wouldn't have taken advantage of the deal.
Befitting the first Thanksgiving's coastal venue, the table the Pilgrims and Wampanoags shared was piled high with sea creatures. The shore dwellers, new and old, supped on seal, clams and swans. It's possible the Pilgrims filled their plates first with grapes and turnips, since they generally didn't care for seafood: The villagers considered shellfish "the last of God's blessings," and fed mussels to their pigs.
But it must have been difficult for Pilgrims to denigrate the crustaceans served at the feast. The lobsters at the first Thanksgiving were almost unimaginably massive; According to the culinarian at Plimoth Plantation, each lobster could "feed three sailors."
Lobsters weren't hard to capture around Plimoth: In his book The Secret Life of Lobsters, Trevor Corson writes that storms often beached hundreds of lobsters for the picking. The Pilgrims thought lobsters were ugly -- "lobster" was a common insult in the 17th century -- but ate their meat when necessary. The first Thanksgiving may very well have been one of those occasions.
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Since Pilgrims probably don't shop at TJ's, owner Jon Alexis suspects his lobsters -- priced at $15.99 a pound on Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- will go quickly. "Reserve your lobster to guarantee," he warns.