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Thanksgiving's Day Traditions

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This is The Spouse, responding on Gfron's account with his permission:

I admit I'm probably wrong about the Thanksgiving turkey requiring factory farms and electric ovens, but I stand by the rest of it being a 1950s Donna Reed-style fantasy meal. You don't see any Funyuns, gelled cranberries, or mini-marshmallows in Norman Rockwell's paintings from the thirties -- and, of course, nary a Jell-O salad in sight. All that stuff is pure 1950s kitsch.

Now, as to why I call that the Baby Boomer period: What we think of as the 1950s really covers the period from mid-fifties to mid-sixties, and I don't think one can underestimate how much that period influenced the Baby Boomer mindset. Many of them have spent their lives reacting against the fifties, and the rest (my parents included) have spent their lives trying to get back to that period.

The fact that Macy's has been parading on Thanksgiving since the 20s would suggest pre-boomer, pre-jello salad-era popularity. Not to mention George Washington's 1789 proclamation.

And in addition to not seeing any "Funyuns, gelled [sic] cranberries, or mini-marshmallows" or "Jell-O salad" on Norman Rockwell's tables, you won't find any on my holiday table either.

Although I got nothing against any of them.

They're just not part of our personal Thanksgiving tradition.


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'll step in and defend my spouse (a bit). The premise is that that "traditional" TGiving meal as our generation knows it (30s-40s) was created by the boomers who had access to products, or uses of products, not previously available, and not the prior or latter "traditions" that you all are talking about. And in my opinion, not my spouses, that is the "traditional meal" that is assumed by much of our modern society.

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This is The Spouse, responding on Gfron's account with his permission:

I admit I'm probably wrong about the Thanksgiving turkey requiring factory farms and electric ovens, but I stand by the rest of it being a 1950s Donna Reed-style fantasy meal. You don't see any Funyuns, gelled cranberries, or mini-marshmallows in Norman Rockwell's paintings from the thirties -- and, of course, nary a Jell-O salad in sight. All that stuff is pure 1950s kitsch.

Now, as to why I call that the Baby Boomer period: What we think of as the 1950s really covers the period from mid-fifties to mid-sixties, and I don't think one can underestimate how much that period influenced the Baby Boomer mindset. Many of them have spent their lives reacting against the fifties, and the rest (my parents included) have spent their lives trying to get back to that period.

Actually, Tyler, Funyuns (1) weren't introduced until the 1970s and (2) are not part of the iconic Green Bean Casserole recipe.

You're confusing Funyuns with French's (nee Durkee's) French Fried Onions. The latter are the mandatory Green Bean Casserole topping.

Get a load of me instructing a white guy about Green Bean Casserole! :laugh:

I was born in the peak year for births of the Baby Boom (1958) and have the constant sensation that when everyone talks about Baby Boomers, they're talking about the people who came along just a few years ahead of me. I was too young to take to the streets either when Martin Luther King died or in protest over the Vietnam War, the music of my high school years was disco, and technofoods (Pringles, Funyuns, Jell-O 1-2-3...) rather than convenience foods were the rage of the day.

Save for disco, which I much prefer to what passes for dance music today ('80s New Wave is also superior), I am in no rush to go back to the days of my youth. At least I was fortunate enough to be spared Green Bean Casserole at the holidays, what with me being black and all.

Edited to add: All that other 1950s stuff -- the jellied cranberry sauce excluded -- never made it to my Grandma's Thanksgiving table either, nor my mother's when she began making her own, somewhat unorthodox, holiday tradition (no roast turkey but a spread to die for). Like full equality before the law, I guess these were things that passed black Americans by in the 1950s.


Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Just an aside....the History of the Turkey on every table was given to me as this...Turkey was the East Coast dinner of choice, and during WW2 I believe the soldiers anywhere near a base were served Turkey dinners and came home wanting turkey for Thanksgiving again....May have been WW1 but there was definatly something to do with soldiers and donated turkey

I just miss the Pasta course now that we all eat at the non-Italian in-laws

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

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I just miss the Pasta course now that we all eat at the non-Italian in-laws

Why don't you take a pasta course next year? I'll bet everyone would enjoy it. Especially when you tell them that it's a tradition in your family. Most folks like incorporating new traditions. For example, we never had tamales for Christmas in our Irish/Scots/American family. But then we spent a few years living on the US-Mexico border. And now it ain't Christmas at our house without some tamales.


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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"Welcome, stranger.

You shall be entertained as a guest among us. Afterward,

when you have tasted dinner, you shall tell us what your need is."

—The Odyssey, II, 118-124

The pact between host and guest is central to Ancient Greek culture where hospitality serves as a touchstone for determining one's ethos. There is the tale of Baucis and Philemon, an old couple whose generous meal of cabbage and pork inspires Zeus and Hermes to throw off their disguise and as a reward, transform husband and wife for all eternity into two sturdy trees that rise from a single trunk. When the house of Odysseus is invaded by unruly suitors during his absence, Penelope distinguishes herself by not kicking the sots out the front door. Then there are the cautionary tales: the hubris of Tantalus who fed his son to the gods, or rapacious centaurs who behaved badly when invited to the wedding feast of Peirithous and Deidameia.

Clearly the acorn that is Busboy falls from the tree of Baucis and Philemon—he didn't need to go to Athens to acquire the exemplary kindness that ought to inspire us all. And man can the B's cook! I've eaten cassoulet only once before, years ago in a stark white space in Manhattan where my friends had to explain who Jerry Orbach was when he was spotted across the room. It was okay. Kind of heavy. Couldn't finish it. I remember Orbach more.

The Sweeney version, on the other hand, haunts me still. It was a thing of beauty, percolating ruddy, creamy and brown, crust as glazed as the enormous cassole that was carried into a dining room painted to match. It tasted even better than it looked. What's not to love? You got your earthen bowl lined with the stuff that huge guys with shoulder pads throw around all day long on Thanksgiving. Silly men! Your duck: legs and fat. Sausages as plump as the thighs of a well-greased glutton and pinkish red fibers of unfettered pork poking out of the détente of the beans.

It was a pleasure to participate in the subversion of the traditional turkey dinner, I must say. I am a faithful soul who will continue to light candles on the altar of Calvin Trillin and defend the greatness of Rome and its food no matter how many snooty Francophiles outnumber me in the room. Yet, I would like to point out that spaghetti carbonara is a mere first course and cassoulet is a meal. If you want to rebel against the boring, sorry bird of your family's making, I gotta say a warm, blustery day at the Sweeneys is the way to go.

As for green bean casserole with French's onion bits atop de-canned goop, I have a new theory about the origins of Thanksgiving. Clearly, it began with Huguenots from Toulouse at a feast shared with Native-Canadians further up in the northeast of this continent. Cassoulet was enjoyed by all every year hence until Anglo-Saxon culture gained the upper hand and replaced it with a lesser dish.

Finally, let me respond to a few remarks Busboy made above. First, with a nod to Mayhaw Man's brilliant debate about the relative merits of cake and pie, I had to equivocate since I much prefer cake with one exception: pumpkin pie. In the spirit of undermining tradition and in deference to Charles's own feelings about pies filled with squash, I decided to be a model guest and go with something French. (I also tried the orange cheese dip in the spirit of good manners.) I'm not sure you'd call Kouign Amann cake, but it is definitely not a pie. What can I say? I followed the recipe of a very gifted professional who pops up here from time to time, only the results were not as evidently laminated as they ought to have been. The apple-pear confit was prepared from a recipe by Patricia Wells, using fruit from a farmer the Sweeneys and I both favor. The Languedoc was all about pairing foods of the same region and an homage to the birthplace of cassoulet. Last, lest one think the Sweeneys not consistently classy, guests also had the option of dousing those lovely oysters with a light, clear shallot vinegary dressing. And we didn't have to dance to The Dead afterwards as fun as it was to frolic with the warm and joyous Mrs. B.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Gfron's Spouse wrote:

"...and, of course, nary a Jell-O salad in sight. All that stuff is pure 1950s kitsch."

:smile:

You say that almost as if 1950's kitsch were a BAD thing!

Seriously, the kitchen with the 50's "decor" ( a stretch, I know) - faux-brick floor tiles and oven surround, avocado appliances, copper molds and Moscow Mule mugs, hideous light fixtures - that's the kitchen where I spent countless gleeful hours watching Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet and messing about in the kitchen. It is dear to me.

And am I really the only one who actually enjoys "moldy salad" aka "the green stuff" aka "congealed salad"? Or am I the only one who'll admit it?


Edited by violetfox (log)

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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And am I really the only one who actually enjoys "moldy salad" aka "the green stuff" aka "congealed salad"? Or am I the only one who'll admit it?

I don't really get gfron's spouse's point, either. I guess she's saying that if a custom or tradition evolves, it's no longer a custom or tradition worth having. Turkey was on the menu of the very first Thanksgiving but I guess in order to be true to the original tradition (rather than some "baby boomer" version), I should have gone out and shot mine, rather than just picking it up at the local super.

And as for the "moldy salad," aka "the green stuff"... Assuming she's talking about Seafoam Salad, I do love it. We don't serve it for Thanksgiving because we serve Waldorf Salad that day and, at some point, enough is surely enough. But I make it a lot and serve it with fried chicken, or pork chops, or ham slices. And during the last miserable six months of my mother's life, it was one of the very few things she'd eat. Good for her, too...chock full of cottage cheese and pineapple. I have very fond feelings about that "moldy" stuff.

:rolleyes:


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 used to be extremely down on Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not a carbs person, and to me, it always heralded a long weekend where I would be forced to eat plate upon plate of boring beige food. The third day of leftovers always saw me begging, desperately, for Indian food.

Now that I've hit the advanced age of 19, I'm beginning to appreciate the traditional nature of the whole thing more - and my family really does do Thanksgiving right, since I come from a pretty good clan of Southern cooks. My dad always does a moist and juicy bird, we've got the dressing, we've got real cranberry sauce, we've got gravy made with turkey necks...life is good. Being an ardent bonechewer, I usually steal the wings and the other miscellaneous parts for myself and leave the actual meat to the others. (And cranberry sauce. I really overdo the cranberry sauce.)

I am looking forward to handling my first Thanksgiving on my own, though. I found a preperation of turkey Peking-duck style that I'm dying to whip out. I'll also make some more interesting side dishes. And include a green salad, which my family considers to be completely obscene on Thanksgiving. But I'll still do the oyster dressing. I have to do that.

Racheld, so wonderful to hear of another family that does cornbread oyster dressing! We're extremely Southern as well, and it's everyone's absolute favorite dish - woe to the person who dares to pick out the oysters when the others aren't looking. We also do a big tray of pecan dressing as well, though that tends to get completely ignored in the intoxicating deliciousness of OYSTER DRESSING. We also do the green beans (cooked until no nutrients are left) with a big ol' hunk of fatback, creamed onions, and asparagus casserole made with lots and lots of egg and cheese sauce.

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I don't really get gfron's spouse's point, either.  I guess she's saying that if a custom or tradition evolves, it's no longer a custom or tradition worth having.  Turkey was on the menu of the very first Thanksgiving but I guess in order to be true to the original tradition (rather than some "baby boomer" version), I should have gone out and shot mine, rather than just picking it up at the local super.

No, I don't think that was what he was saying at all. What he was saying was that the Thanksgiving tradition many consider "quintessentially American" and (implicitly) "timeless" was actually bound to a particular era: the Thanksgiving spread so many (white folks) serve is actually the 1950s version, not something universal.

As we have seen in this very discussion, not even the turkey is universal as a Thanksgiving centerpiece, though it remains the iconic one. Aside from that, there are all sorts of variations on the theme, all as American as salsa and marinara sauce. If there is anything universally American about Thanksgiving, it is the fact that on this one day, friends and family gather together mainly for the purpose of breaking bread together and counting their blessings. (That point is mine, not Tyler Connoley's.)

As for bristling at the value judgements (deleted here), did you notice that I remained unflappable in the face of yet another Southern assault on perfectly innocent Midwestern bread stuffing?

Edited to correct spelling of the Connoleys' last name.


Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I used to be extremely down on Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not a carbs person, and to me, it always heralded a long weekend where I would be forced to eat plate upon plate of boring beige food. The third day of leftovers always saw me begging, desperately, for Indian food.

Now that I've hit the advanced age of 19, I'm beginning to appreciate the traditional nature of the whole thing more - and my family really does do Thanksgiving right, since I come from a pretty good clan of Southern cooks. My dad always does a moist and juicy bird, we've got the dressing, we've got real cranberry sauce, we've got gravy made with turkey necks...life is good. Being an ardent bonechewer, I usually steal the wings and the other miscellaneous parts for myself and leave the actual meat to the others. (And cranberry sauce. I really overdo the cranberry sauce.)

I am looking forward to handling my first Thanksgiving on my own, though. I found a preperation of turkey Peking-duck style that I'm dying to whip out. I'll also make some more interesting side dishes. And include a green salad, which my family considers to be completely obscene on Thanksgiving. But I'll still do the oyster dressing. I have to do that.

Racheld, so wonderful to hear of another family that does cornbread oyster dressing! We're extremely Southern as well, and it's everyone's absolute favorite dish - woe to the person who dares to pick out the oysters when the others aren't looking. We also do a big tray of pecan dressing as well, though that tends to get completely ignored in the intoxicating deliciousness of OYSTER DRESSING. We also do the green beans (cooked until no nutrients are left) with a big ol' hunk of fatback, creamed onions, and asparagus casserole made with lots and lots of egg and cheese sauce.

Faine - coming from a southern background (I am five gen. Savannahian now living in Atlanta) and I love oyster dressing - but it is the one thing I have the hardest time making - I think because both my mom and grandmother's was so damn good and yes like you I picked the oysters out when no one was looking.

I would love to hear how you made your dressing as I know it is a mental block with me - I can make regular dressing and the cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with the peacan topping and real homemade mac and cheese.

I also make my gravy same as you with the neck and this year my little one nawed on the neck till no meat was left. My mom makes here gravy with the rest of the gizzers (misspelled) something I have never cared for, but very southern.

Bree

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I don't really get gfron's spouse's point, either.  I guess she's saying that if a custom or tradition evolves, it's no longer a custom or tradition worth having.  Turkey was on the menu of the very first Thanksgiving but I guess in order to be true to the original tradition (rather than some "baby boomer" version), I should have gone out and shot mine, rather than just picking it up at the local super.

No, I don't think that was what he was saying at all. What he was saying was that the Thanksgiving tradition many consider "quintessentially American" and (implicitly) "timeless" was actually bound to a particular era: the Thanksgiving spread so many (white folks) serve is actually the 1950s version, not something universal.

As we have seen in this very discussion, not even the turkey is universal as a Thanksgiving centerpiece, though it remains the iconic one. Aside from that, there are all sorts of variations on the theme, all as American as salsa and marinara sauce. If there is anything universally American about Thanksgiving, it is the fact that on this one day, friends and family gather together mainly for the purpose of breaking bread together and counting their blessings. (That point is mine, not Tyler Connoley's.)

As for bristling at the value judgements (deleted here), did you notice that I remained unflappable in the face of yet another Southern assault on perfectly innocent Midwestern bread stuffing?

Did notice your commendable unflappability for which I...um...commend you.

Actually though, I believe that, in direct contradiction to what I think was gfron's spouse's point (he/she appeared to be saying that Thanksgiving is all about WHAT you eat so if whatever you're eating is of the 70's, it can't be the "quintessentially American" experience because it's only a quintessentially white folk baby boomer experience), although Thanksgiving is about coming together for a grand and lavish celebratory meal, it doesn't really matter that much what exactly your grand and lavish celebratory meal consists of.

So in fact, I agree with you. I DO think that Thanksgiving is the quintessential American experience, NOT the quintessential baby boomer experience, and I think that the exact menu is pretty far down the list of the reason why.

You can have your Funyuns or little pastel marshmallows or whatever. You can shoot a wild turkey and make an effort to be totally "authentic" or have lasagna or enchiladas or bbq or Kentucky Burgoo.

I'd never take it unto myself to declare to people that might not know enough to disbelieve me that Thanksgiving only belongs to one group of folks based on my opinion of what they ate.

I guess what I'm trying to say in my silly, convoluted way, is that gfron's spouse is wrong.


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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[...]What [Tyler Connoley] was saying was that the Thanksgiving tradition many consider "quintessentially American" and (implicitly) "timeless" was actually bound to a particular era: the Thanksgiving spread so many (white folks) serve is actually the 1950s version, not something universal.

As we have seen in this very discussion, not even the turkey is universal as a Thanksgiving centerpiece, though it remains the iconic one.  Aside from that, there are all sorts of variations on the theme, all as American as salsa and marinara sauce.  If there is anything universally American about Thanksgiving, it is the fact that on this one day, friends and family gather together mainly for the purpose of breaking bread together and counting their blessings. (That point is mine, not Tyler Connoley's.)

As for bristling at the value judgements (deleted here), did you notice that I remained unflappable in the face of yet another Southern assault on perfectly innocent Midwestern bread stuffing?

Did notice your commendable unflappability for which I...um...commend you.

Actually though, I believe that, in direct contradiction to what I think was gfron's spouse's point (he/she appeared to be saying that Thanksgiving is all about WHAT you eat so if whatever you're eating is of the 70's, it can't be the "quintessentially American" experience because it's only a quintessentially white folk baby boomer experience), although Thanksgiving is about coming together for a grand and lavish celebratory meal, it doesn't really matter that much what exactly your grand and lavish celebratory meal consists of.

So in fact, I agree with you. I DO think that Thanksgiving is the quintessential American experience, NOT the quintessential baby boomer experience, and I think that the exact menu is pretty far down the list of the reason why.

You can have your Funyuns or little pastel marshmallows or whatever. You can shoot a wild turkey and make an effort to be totally "authentic" or have lasagna or enchiladas or bbq or Kentucky Burgoo.

I'd never take it unto myself to declare to people that might not know enough to disbelieve me that Thanksgiving only belongs to one group of folks based on my opinion of what they ate.

I guess what I'm trying to say in my silly, convoluted way, is that gfron's spouse is wrong.

I think even Ron Connoley agrees with you:

[...]But back to the food.  I love how my family tradition is 300 White Castles (13 siblings on my dad's side), mounds and mounds of liver spaetzle with brown gravy (my mom's German side), Aunt Betty's cranberry sauce of the year that is always nasty but adventurously tantalizing, and Uncle Joe's bacon stuffed anything.  All of that washed down with more wine than any of should consume at our increasing ages.

And yes, we always have a couple of turkeys that are a tad bit dry, green bean casserole that we all laugh at but leave not a drop, sweet potatoes with bagged marshmallows, and on and on.  So what a great day and a great meal.  For those of you who live outside of the US...you're not missing anything, and yet you're missing the quintessential US experience.  I can't wait  :biggrin:

(300 White Castles! What I wouldn't give for even one White Castle now, and no, the microwavable ones you buy at the supermarket don't count. I still mourn the day White Castle departed the Philadelphia market in 1999. Edited to add not-terribly-relevant aside: Technically, this means that the title characters in the instant-classic stoner pic Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) would not have been able to do what they did in the film, which was to endure a series of misadventures stretching the length of the Garden State in order to get what they craved at a White Castle in Cherry Hill, N.J.)

But on further reflection, I don't think any of this contradicts Tyler's central point, which is really about a much narrower issue than what we're discussing here. I actually agree with Tyler too on his point and would only add:

It's also a white thing. I wouldn't understand. :wink:

BTW, Ron, we -- well, at least I -- would welcome your partner's further thoughts on this discussion. He's clearly articulate and opinionated, so I'm sure he has some. Wanna let him back onto your account for a post?


Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Ha! He threw up his hands in dispair at how eGullet members (including me) take things to extremes and lose the forest through the trees. I'll see if he's game to come and defend his concept and his pronoun :wink:

Ultimately his point is that is you were to describe the image of a Thanksgiving meal that is most commonly envisioned in our modern times, it would include that previously described meal that has so many roots in the baby boomer era (mass production, etc). That's all. He's not arguing that White Castles can't be a part of YOUR traditional meal, nor that they had turkey 200 years ago.

The idea of race that keeps popping its head up is also very interesting (quickly changing subjects). Many of you were talking about the turkeys from 200 years ago, if we look at the black/African American culture from the 19th century or before, what is known of their Thanksgiving celebration? There is the issue of slavery, and how being a slave would impact their meal (was there a Thanksgiving meal or did slaves of the time not accept the holiday as their own?), but also, depending how far back we go, we're also talking about 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, and the diet that was brought from Africa and the Carribean (among other places). Are OUR sweet potato casseroles linked to this time?

[While typing this, Tyler walked through and he groaned and said 'no' to responding and then went on to re-articulate his point...which means 'yes' :rolleyes: So I'll get him on as soon as possible.]

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Actually, Ron, I think that very little is known about how slaves celebrated Thanksgiving, if celebrate it they did. Think about it for a minute: While they too had friends, a roof over their head and food to eat [often what the master didn't want], do you think they would really want to give thanks for their enslaved state? (Somewhat relevant aside: Our best known historical theme park, Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, has over the past decade or two incorporated the slaves into its past-comes-alive narrative of everyday life in early Virginia. I would be interested to know what roles they play this time of year.)

It's also my suspicion that African-Americans since Emancipation have celebrated Thanksgiving much as their Caucasian counterparts have, with the main differences coming in what surrounds the main dish. Some of those differences in sides could be said to be a Southern, rather than a black, thing -- ISTR there are occasional debates over in Southern Food Culture about the degree to which black "soul food" and Southern folk cooking overlap and diverge -- but whatever they are, they're there. The absence of Green Bean Casserole from black holiday tables is a subject I've tackled before, but it also extends to those 1950s side dishes Tyler commented on.

I will, however, note that I've been in black homes where ham shares pride of place with turkey on Thanksgiving, a pattern that also holds on Christmas Day in homes that include a big dinner as part of the holiday. (Those that don't serve ham on either of these days usually trot it out for New Year's Day, along with black-eyed peas "for good luck.")

As a f'rinstance, I had a bit of the leftover Thanksgiving dinner my friend Jonny's boyfriend prepared for the two of them on Monday night at his place in Lansdowne. On their menu was: Turkey, chicken liver stuffing, shells and cheese, mixed collard/mustard greens, cranberry sauce, vanilla cheesecake. (On my visit, we observed the dictum "Life is short - eat dessert first.") Macaroni and cheese in place of mashed potatoes is something I see often in black homes; ditto greens instead of Green Bean Casserole. The absence of sweet potatoes or yams from the menu is notable, though: those usually appear -- without marshmallows on top -- on black Thanksgiving tables without fail, either as a side dish or in the pie served for dessert.


Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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How can you not like turkey? After all, it's called "Butter Ball". :-)

 

I sous vide then smoke my turkeys for Thanksgiving. Actually very tasty.

 

 

dcarch

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I live in the southern tip of Africa and we do not have a Thanksgiving day. However, I do know the reason for the Thanksgiving celebration, but have no idea why, in North America, the traditional meal is a turkey. Can anybody enlighten me? Sorry if the question is a bit off topic.

John.


Edited by JohnT (log)

Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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I live in the southern tip of Africa and we do not have a Thanksgiving day. However, I do know the reason for the Thanksgiving celebration, but have no idea why, in North America, the traditional meal is a turkey. Can anybody enlighten me? Sorry if the question is a bit off topic.

John.

According to tradition, turkey was served at the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims and Indians shared a meal at Plymouth, in what was to become Massachusetts.
Edited by Maedl (log)
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It was supposedly wild turkey along with venison, maize(corn), all kinds of shellfish.   Thanksgiving days were declared at intermittent times by the powers that be to celebrate something like a victory or in the case of the Pilgrims surviving that first year....

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Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

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I live in the southern tip of Africa and we do not have a Thanksgiving day. However, I do know the reason for the Thanksgiving celebration, but have no idea why, in North America, the traditional meal is a turkey. Can anybody enlighten me? Sorry if the question is a bit off topic.

John.

 

 

Turkey is native to the Americas. 

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Turkey is a very challenging meat to cook well especially if you follow the directions of the old school cookbooks I raised myself on which practically guarantee a dried out, unappetizing waste of effort. Fortunately, from my very first effort at cooking one, I used a Reynolds cooking bag, which provides a moist, thoroughly cooked bird that also browns beautifully. God knows what chem-i-kills are leached into the delicious meat, so I have rethought my approach to this. My mom used a covered enameled roaster, which are hard to find now, but I may try to search one out if I decide to roast another gobbler.

 

I've had good results deep frying them, but it's dangerous. ER visits go way up on Thanksgiving because of this popular practice. Oil boils out of the pot all over the lawn. You have to stand WAY back. Kids and pets need to be kept indoors.  I can't imagine an indoor fryer like has been recently discussed here being remotely safe.

 

Also a full on TG dinner is one of the most labor intensive meals I've personally ever cooked if I'm doing all the work myself, and not as fun as some thing like spanakopita, empanadas, egg or spring rolls, lasagne, filled crepes, chicken cacciatore,  or other stuff that requires effort, but which can be done in stages over a couple days.

 

I'm usually so burned out and exhausted at the end of a full TG traditional dinner prep that my appetite is diminished, and that's definitely no fun at all. I find it unrewarding.

 

The thing I hate most is the last minute prep of both mashed potatoes and gravy. Don't get me wrong; I love both these dishes; but by the time I have slaved in the kitchen for two or three days, I'm just not in the mood for that last minute rush to get everything on the table hot.

 

Thankfully, I'm no longer expected to host TG dinner for my full dysfunctional family, and am free to approach it with a much freer and creative hand.

 

I have made everything from duck, wild goose, many of the dishes I mentioned above, to seafood. I want to make something special, more expensive and labor intense than a humdrum everyday dinner, but something that isn't going to spoil my enjoyment of the meal.

 

So, boudin noir, I'd suggest to you, if you are not bound by familial expectations of the traditional to make something that makes you happy. Something you can enjoy too, and not be worn out by the time dinner is on the table. I find that when I am enjoying the creative process and not being a slave to others expectations, that I can usually produce some food that's far superior to slogging through what I should be doing. Usually the beneficiaries of my efforts are over the moon as well.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!  :smile:

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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First set of Portugese Sweet bread baked and cooling....

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Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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my Thanksgiving preferences:

• duck (dark meat: thigh, drumstick, wing)
• bread-type stuffing (not vegetable-type)
• mashed potatoes with duck gravy
• butternut squash (preferably whole, not a casserole with marshmallow)
• green bean casserole with croutons
• cauliflower with melted extra sharp white cheddar cheese
• cranbury sauce (the "jellied" type, not the old fashioned whole-cranberry type)
• flaky, hot dinner rolls
• pumpkin pie

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With the traditional meal generally held on a different day my go-to in recent years on T-Day itself has been steamed local spiny lobster with a variety of dipping sauces, good rice or bread to catch/sop up the juices, and an lemon juice and oil dressed simple green salad as a counterpoint. 

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