In a few short weeks the autumn air will be filled with the scents we all associate with the season. As families gather around tables laden with turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, they celebrate a tradition etched deep into the American consciousness: Thanksgiving. 

In 1607, 13 years before the feast that inspired our holiday, English settlers gathered to give thanks for their safe passage across the Atlantic and the endurance of their fledgling colony. This lesser-known event can be considered one of the earliest North American Thanksgiving celebrations. 

However, while we’re all familiar with the story of the Pilgrims and their feast with the Wampanoag people, the story of that Thanksgiving may be a more intricate tapestry than we ever imagined. The Pilgrims and the Mayflower often take center stage in the narrative, but it’s time to shift our focus and honor the Indigenous people who have cultivated this land for generations. 

Long before the Pilgrims’ voyage to Plymouth, the Wampanoag people thrived in what we now know as Massachusetts. With a rich culture and a deep connection to the land, they were no strangers to giving thanks for the bounties of nature. Their traditions were rooted in a deep respect for the Earth and a profound understanding of the cycles of nature.

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In September 1621, when the Pilgrims faced their first New England winter, the Wampanoag people extended a hand of friendship. They shared not only food but also a philosophy deeply rooted in the spirit of giving thanks. The famous three-day feast in Plymouth was a remarkable moment of unity. It was a coming together of two distinct cultures, each bringing their own traditions and culinary heritage to the table. It was a celebration of the harvest, an acknowledgment of shared hardships, and a symbol of hope for a brighter future.

The feast likely featured venison, waterfowl, seafood, corn, beans, squash and berries — showcasing a blend of Indigenous and English culinary traditions. 

Cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie weren’t on the menu then, but in Fort Worth on Nov. 23, 1904, recipes for both were featured in the Fort Worth Morning Register as dishes to include in your holiday spread, along with “apple and nut salad, mince pie, baked Indian pudding, and oyster soup.” 

A news article about the first Thanksgiving. (Courtesy photo)

The spirit of gratitude, communal harmony and shared food laid the foundation for the modern Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims’ feast may have laid the most famous cornerstone, but this cherished holiday, as we know it, is a product of various cultures and time periods. 

Why stress over the stove and spend hours in the kitchen this Thanksgiving when you can instead savor every moment with your loved ones? Make this year’s celebration truly memorable by letting someone else handle the culinary heavy lifting. 

Shop locally and enjoy a sumptuous feast that’s carefully crafted with all the classic flavors and a few delightful twists. With convenient pickup options, you’ll breeze through the holiday preparations, leaving you more time to relax, reconnect and create cherished memories with family and friends. 

Indulge in the joy of a stress-free Thanksgiving, expertly prepared by an area chef. Many restaurants and markets are prepared to serve heat-and-eat carryout menus, including Central Market. This is my curated list including some favorite not-so-traditional options — and an added value pro tip — for your feast. All require advance orders. 


BJ’s Cajun Kitchen, 5600 N. Tarrant Parkway, Arlington, 214-498-5815

Brandi Johnson, known as Chef BJ, is a maestro of Southern cuisine and one of my favorite private chefs. She has an unwavering dedication to authenticity and commands a scratch kitchen where every dish is a testament to her artistry and commitment to tradition. BJ’s creations infuse soul into every recipe to transport diners to the heart of the South, where flavors dance harmoniously in a symphony of taste. Menu options include Cajun deep-fried turkeys, candied yams, macaroni and cheese or a dinner package. 

Orders must be placed by Nov. 17. Pickup dates are Nov. 22- 23, before 2 p.m.

Fort Worth

Local Foods Kitchen, 4548 Hartwood Dr., Fort Worth, 817-238-3464

The chef-driven grab-and-go eatery is offering a la carte dishes featuring Cornish game hens, veggie Wellingtons, and sausage and ciabatta herb stuffing. Pro tip: Want to trick your family into thinking you cooked dinner yourself? You can bring your own dish for items to be baked in. Call for order deadline and pickup dates.

Spiral Diner & Bakery, 1314 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817- 332-8834

I didn’t forget about you, vegetarians. Pick up a meat-free alternative to traditional turkey along with cornbread stuffing, broccoli casserole and other traditional sides with plant-based preparations. And there are desserts, too. 

Barbecue options always bring fire cooking to the table in a good way, from turkey to sides. Explore menus and order online, or call for more information on deadlines and what’s on offer:

Deah Mitchell writes about more than food. You can email her at

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Deah Berry Mitchell is the founder and CEO of Nostalgia Black Group, a multimedia company whose core business is preserving Black cultural history through writing, public speaking, tourism and technology....