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When do you serve Thanksgiving dinner


Fat Guy
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At what time do you serve your Thanksgiving dinner?

I find that most people I know go with something in the 2-3pm range. I think that's not a great idea. The same thing happens over and over: people arrive starved because they skipped lunch (and breakfast), they gorge on appetizers, and they're full before the actual meal is served.

My preference is to do it either at lunch time or at dinner time, noon or 6pm, with food on the table by 12:30 or 6:30. That way people are on their normal meal cycles.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I've been toiling over this.

I'm making lunch for bunch of non-americans and on top of that, for parents of small children whose naptimes would be greatly affected.

So. I am hoping to have everything on the table by 1-130. The problem with 12-1230 is that you have to wake up at the crack of dawn. And the problem with dinner is you don't have the rest of the day to digest your food before bed. heehee. For 1-130, I still have to wake up at the crack of dawn, but that extra hour will help, I think anyway.

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We're in the 2-3pm crowd. I don't get the bit about folks starving because they've "skipped lunch (and breakfast)." In our family, anyway, everybody but the Thanksgiving dinner cook sleeps in, rising around 9am or so, and has a big holiday breakfast, including sausage, bacon, smoked oysters, eggs, fried tomatoes, breakfast tacos, biscuits & gravy, French toast or pancakes or both, fried potatoes, assorted fruits, and whatever else sounds appealing. We could never serve Thanksgiving dinner before about two or three because everybody's still full from breakfast.

So we start our big Thanksgiving dinner around 3 or so, and it takes an hour at least to eat. Then around 5 or 6pm, folks are ready for some pie. Leftover noshing and nibbling begins around 8pm, and continues on and off into late-night-snack- and bedtime.

I don't know, but many retired folks that no longer have the forced time constraints of rising early and heading off to a job gradually settle into something similar - big late breakfast, very early dinner - the largest meal of the day - and then a snack or very light supper around bedtime. It's a lot like the Mexican schedule of a "comida," or big meal, early afternoon, and then "cena," or a light supper, eaten later.

I have a feeling that's a more natural mealtime rhythm.

______________________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I think Jaymes is right - during the summer, when we're not teaching, we revert to this schedule. It does seem natural.

As to your question, for Thanksgiving we usually plan on starting the meal at around six p.m., just because not everybody gets here until around five. (The ones who do show up earlier get drafted into helping out in the kitchen - which is where they'd hang out anyway.)

I guess there's some kind of game played with a pointy ball that people like to watch on that day? :biggrin:

Oh, I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving - it's my very, very favorite holiday, even on years when it's been just the two of us. Our first date, 40 years ago, was the day-before-Thanksgiving sock hop. :wub:

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I guess there's some kind of game played with a pointy ball that people like to watch on that day? :biggrin:

Right, and I know a great many people that schedule Thanksgiving dinner to be eaten during halftime of this or that pointy-ball game.

Especially here in Texas.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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In my Mother's family, my Grandmother served Thanksgiving dinner at 1pm. And then she brought out the meat pies (French-Canadian)at 6pm, whether we were hungry or not! A group is usually sitting around playing scrabble by then, and some people are int he den watching whatever movie is on tv that year. We're not really football fans, at least not college football.

At my parent's house, we prefer to eat around 5pm, and nosh all day. We try not to get over-stuffed, but sometimes the noshing is the best part!

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We aim for around 6 pm. Since we have Thanksgiving on the coast, no one wants to give up all the best daylight hours that could be spent walking or playing on the beach--rain or shine. Plus it's essential to get away from each other and all dogs need to be made very tired. And some parties don't arrive until mid-afternoon. Besides, cooking a turkey and making dressing is a major undertaking, and our turkey is usually at least 17 lbs. Since my husband and I do that part, there's no way I'm gonna get up at 6 am and start cooking. And some of the teenagers who are responsible for side dishes don't climb out of their nests til noon. Yes, most of us nibble lightly or skip lunch, and some of us would like to see the complete disappearance of appetizers. But that will not happen in my in-laws' life time. We typically are forced to watch a slide show between dinner and dessert; mostly pictures we've all see a thousand times. The next day is much more fun: all play, leftover pie for breakfast (when you can really appreciate it) oysters from Hog Island at dinner.

Best of all: no TV reception at the beach.

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Personally, I think since the person cooking the meal has so.much.to.do, it should be served whenever the hell they think it'll be the most convenient. I serve thanksgiving around 6pm because I know that'll it will give me enough time to take a break here and there. The only reason my family served it around 2pm-3pm growing up is because that's when my grandparents typically ate dinner.

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I've discovered that the problem with eating at 2 or 3pm is that if you stay up until, say 11pm, you get hungry before going to bed. You want to eat something but then you don't because you're going to be going to bed soon and so there's a dilemma.

I prefer a 1pm dining time or make it late like a 5pm or 6pm start time.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I like serving it around 4:30-5, at my house. We're late dinner people, normally eating at 8ish. But 5 pm gives me enough time that I'm not killing myself in the morning, and gives my guests time to hang out and snack, if they get here around 2. Then we get hungry for leftovers around midnight, and all is well.

My mother, on the other hand serves it at 1. I kinda hate it, because it kills breakfast plans we might have, and then by 5, we're starving, and if we eat at her house, we don't get leftovers... In fact, we often wind up hitting the diner, by 8-9, out of desperation.

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I've discovered that the problem with eating at 2 or 3pm is that if you stay up until, say 11pm, you get hungry before going to bed. You want to eat something but then you don't because you're going to be going to bed soon and so there's a dilemma.

This is the hot turkey sandwich portion of the evening at our place -- and it's for lightweights who didn't take full advantage during round one. :wink:

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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We're in the 2-3 o'clock seating. We have a large family of over 100 that gather for Thanksgiving. It's a day to sleep in so a late breakfast will hold one over. There are plenty of apps and drink to keep one from keeling over so the later start time is never a problem. By early evening folks are ready to head home and maybe snack on some left overs later that evening.

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My mother, on the other hand serves it at 1. I kinda hate it, because it kills breakfast plans we might have, and then by 5, we're starving

Oh, this reminds me of Thanksgiving the first year we were married. His Mom's dinner was at one - my Mom's dinner (about 2 miles away) was at three. We should have walked (waddled) over there, although I doubt if it would have helped much. Of course we had to load our plates at both places. The same thing happened at Christmas, and then we wised up and had Thanksgiving with one set of folks, and Christmas with the other (thereby offending both mothers deeply every year). Finally, we hit upon a solution: we moved across country, where we were finally free to cook our own holiday dinners!

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Our "unofficially adopted daughter" is running a 15K Turkey Trot that morning and has to be at work at 3 AM on Friday. It will just be the 3 of us. So, I'm guessing we'll eat around 3-4 pm... as soon as I can get it on the table. Neither of my ovens is working right. So, it will take me a little longer than usual to make sure I have an adequate supply of dinner rolls baked (that's really all she cares about)! :laugh:

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I've discovered that the problem with eating at 2 or 3pm is that if you stay up until, say 11pm, you get hungry before going to bed. You want to eat something but then you don't because you're going to be going to bed soon and so there's a dilemma.

This is the hot turkey sandwich portion of the evening at our place -- and it's for lightweights who didn't take full advantage during round one. :wink:

Right.

Hot turkey sandwiches...

And pie for those that took too much "advantage during round one" and had to put dessert off a bit.

:smile:

_________________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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When I was growing up it was always "around dark" , 5ish. That was because while my mother cooked for our small family group, Dad was out deer hunting. Especially as he got older it gave real meaning to "Thankful" when he arrived home safely for the meal.

Now we entertain international university students who come at 4, photograph the bird as it comes out of oven , and eat around 5.

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This year I get to host Thanksgiving! And because my parents are older and hate to drive at night, they'll arrive around 1 and we'll sit down by 2 and they will leave for home (with lots of leftovers. I don't get this practice of sending guests home with empty hands. When my sister did Tday, I'd make a turkey before we left so that there'd be something to eat when we got home).

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I've discovered that the problem with eating at 2 or 3pm is that if you stay up until, say 11pm, you get hungry before going to bed. You want to eat something but then you don't because you're going to be going to bed soon and so there's a dilemma.

This is the hot turkey sandwich portion of the evening at our place -- and it's for lightweights who didn't take full advantage during round one. :wink:

This is embarassing but we eat all day. Arrive around Noon or 1. Eat appetizers, often including a nice soup in little pick-up cups--so much better than having it as a first course, which can make you too full. A little time goes by. Hungry again: sit down at 4 to the turkey. Pie at maybe 6 or 6:30. And yes, turkey sandwiches late, while watching an old movie. It's only once a year.

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