Lenox Dale — Thanksgiving Day – America’s inclusive, nonreligious, nonpatriotic holiday – is fast approaching. It is a time to focus on what really matters: loved ones, sharing and food! If Squanto, the Patuxet Native American, and Massasoit, the Wampanoag, had not shared their fishing and growing skills and expertise as well as their actual food with the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620 and 1621, those Puritans would not have survived and we might not be celebrating Thanksgiving here in the Berkshires in 2017.
We celebrate feasting itself on this harvest holiday: Feasting with family and friends, appreciating, and being grateful for who and what we have in our lives right now.
I can say I appreciate my loved ones, especially my sweet young friend Abeer who lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and just got married – Yea! — Abeer. She also drives, cooks adventurously and is working on a degree in business at university. I am also grateful for Dylan, a young Berkshire boy who loves trees and birds, works very hard on his schoolwork and his life, and for whom I have three special feathers to share when next we meet.
I couldn’t omit sharing how much I love the love of my dog (Mutzl) and cat (Hermes). What would my life be without them?
As for the feasting part, I will be traveling to Savoy (Savoy? Where’s Savoy?) with Berkshire’s Mountain Man, Henry Krantz, for our annual Thanksgiving day and dinner with dear friends. However…
Not everyone will be going to Savoy or to share dinner with friends. Lots of people like to have their feasts in restaurants this 21st century: Blantyre, Cranwell, Gala at the Orchards, Hancock Shaker Village, the Red Lion, Wheatleigh. But if $100 – or $95 or $60 or even $35 plus drinks and tax and tip per person – is not for you or if you want to be part of a larger community, we have many alternatives all over our county: Traditional, one-serving pot roast, vegan and macrobiotic choices, lunch and dinner.
Most of these dinners are free. All are open to anyone. Most feature turkey. One has pot roast. Some are vegan or have vegan options. Some cost $2 (for seniors, $6 for younger people) or $5. Two cost $12. The macrobiotic Thanksgiving costs $55, but there is no tax or tip.
The dinners will take place Saturday, Nov. 18; Monday the 20th, two on Tuesday the 21st; and all of those on Thursday, Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day.
Professional chefs contribute their delectability skills and the food for some of the dinners, like Squanto and Massasoit long ago. All the chefs, cooks and volunteers who present these meaningful dinners are experienced and will be creating meals to remember.
I have organized these dinners by date so readers may find the one or ones which best suit them.
Saturday, Nov. 18
On Saturday, Nov. 18, the Dalton United Methodist Church – 755 Main St. at the corner of North and High streets where Routes 8 and 9 separate – is holding it usual third Saturday dinner from 5 to 7 p. m. and it will be a Thanksgiving turkey dinner for $12 at the door. It will be $10 if you prepay. I don’t think reservations are necessary but, just in case, the phone number is (413) 684-0521.
Also on Saturday evening, chef Frank LaRagione will be serving a pot roast dinner with traditional Thanksgiving sides – mashed potatoes, gravy, squash, green beans, bread and butter, coffee and tea – but with a homemade brownie ice cream sundae for dessert. Chef Frank serves dinners often at the First Baptist Church, 88 South St. at the corner of South Church Street, to benefit various church projects and for other nonprofit local groups. Dinner is $12 for adults, and $6 for youth 12 and under. Call the Ragiones at (413) 442-8592. Walk-ins are welcome and take-out is available.
Sunday, Nov. 19
At 4:30 p. m. on Sunday, November 19, Pittsfield’s Salvation Army, 298 West Street where it makes a sharp left turn, hosts a free dinner as they do every week. I spoke to Captain Darlene Higgins who told me that, as of last week, they had no donations of food or volunteers to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner. “There will be a dinner,” she said. “Whether it will be turkey or not is still up in the air.
Monday, Nov. 20
On Monday, Nov. 20, starting at 4 p.m. “until the food is gone and everyone is fed,” Berkshire Food Project will serve its annual, traditional, free Thanksgiving feast at the First Congregational Church of North Adams, 134 Main St. at the corner where Ashland Avenue and Church Street begin. No reservations are required. Just walk in. Darlene Ellis, Berkshire Food Project manager for the last five years, told me that, as every year, the pies had been made for the pie contest held the day before at First Congregational Church of Williamstown. “They bake two,” she said. “One to taste and judge, one for our Thanksgiving dinner.” Call Darlene any weekday morning at (413) 664-7378 if you’d like to volunteer to help make this lavish dinner. “We’ll be here from 8:30 a.m.”
Tuesday, Nov. 21
Berkshire South Regional Community Center will host its 10th annual Community Thanks Supper on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 15 Crissey Rd., Great Barrington. The traditional Thanksgiving meal will be prepared by local chef Tommy Lee. Volunteer opportunities are available. Seatings are at 5 and 6:15 p.m. and reservations are needed at least 24 hours in advance, as seating is limited. This event is free and open to the public. For reservations or for more information contact the Operations Manager, Betty Banker at email@example.com or (413) 528-2810 x32.
First United Methodist Church of Pittsfield – 55 Fenn St. at the corner of Renne Avenue in Pittsfield – will turn its free Harvest Table weekly dinner into a great medieval feast at 5 p.m., also on Tuesday, Nov. 21. It was a phenomenon and overflowing when I attended.
Wednesday, Nov. 22
The Wednesday dinner at the Lee Congregational Church starts at 5:30 but the doors are open at least an hour before and the regulars are often friendly and welcoming. No reservations required.
Thursday, Nov. 23
On Thanksgiving Day, Brenda Torchio (Brenda & Co.) will cater the dinner at noon at the Pittsfield American Legion. Call her at (413) 997-4500 to make reservations. It costs $20.
The First Congregational Church, 251 Main Street in Great Barrington, will deliver 60 free Thanksgiving dinner to homebound seniors and those who receive Elder Services Meals on Wheels between 11:30 and noon on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23. Meals on Wheels drivers can give recipients an application form or call Grace Zell at (413) 528-0230.
Michael Roller of Savory Harvest Catering, the Lenox Club and Samel’s Deli in Pittsfield is making the Thanksgiving Day Guthrie Center dinner at 2 Van Deusenville Rd., as he always has since those Thanksgiving dinners began. Call the Guthrie Center at (413) 528-1958 to make reservations. Michael Roller said: “We do a fairly traditional roast turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, stuffing, sautéed greens and roasted butternut squash. People at the Guthrie Center said, ‘Don’t change a thing!’ ” He added: “And a nice thing is almost all of the food is donated by our vendors, both local and places like Sysco. They do it every year.”
There will also be a free dinner at noon at the Christian Center in Pittsfield and All Saints Episcopal Church in North Adams. Details to come.
Finally – or, perhaps, firstly, for those who cannot get enough turkey dinners, both Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington and the Lion’s Den at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, offer turkey dinner specials with all the fixings every Sunday all year round. They run $12 and $14 plus tax and tip.
And if you are making your own turkey dinner, be aware that the Big Y supermarkets in Great Barrington, Lee, Pittsfield, Adams and North Adams are offering a coupon worth $7 toward the price of any turkey purchased before Thanksgiving Day. Don’t forget Berkshire Grown’s Thanksgiving farmers’ markets this Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18 and 19, filled with locally produced delicacies, artisanal products like cheeses and breads and with (still) fresh, growing produce – in Great Barrington at Monument Valley Regional Middle School, 313 Monument Valley Rd. just east of Route 7, from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m. on Saturday; and in Williamstown at Williams College Towne Field House, 82 Latham St. off the bottom of Spring Street, on Sunday from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m.