Why Thanksgiving Is My Favorite Holiday

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I’ve long since written off Xmas as a vile orgy of consumerism, like Saturnalia, but lacking the spiritual content. And more secular holidays, like July 4 (baseball, hot dogs) or Veterans Day (parades) or Labor Day (should be May 1) or Washington’s Birthday (those teeth) or Martin Luther King Day (depths of January), seem to have been emptied of their content as well, perhaps because now that they’ve all become “floating Mondays,” they make clear that the real purpose of a holiday (Old English hāliġ dæġ, holy day) is to be the third day of a three-day weekend. Not so Thanksgiving, gloriously positioned on a Thursday![1] But the real reason I love Thanksgiving — erasing, as is not usually my method, the contested history[2] — is that today Thanksgiving embodies what should be a central value in “our” civilization: Conviviality, first amplified by the Slow Food movement:

Three years later, on December 10, 1989, the Slow Food movement was born. The Slow Food Manifesto, drafted by co-founder Folco Portinari and endorsed by delegates from 15 countries, condemned the “fast life” and its implications on culture and society:

“We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods… A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life… May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency. Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food. Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.” (Excerpt from the Official Slow Food Manifesto, as published in “Slow Food: A Case for Taste” in 2001)

The concept of conviviality is the heart of the Slow Food movement: taking pleasure in the processes of cooking, eating, and sharing meals with others.

“Enslaved” is a strong word. But is it so wrong? If you’re looking for an alternative set of values to accumulation — perhaps because you’re concerned about climate change — than conviviality isn’t such a bad place to start. We can see “taking pleasure in the processes of cooking, eating, and sharing meals with others” if we look at the regional distribution of dishes. Here’s one example:

(Mashed potatoes aren’t on the map because they’re universal, hence not “disproportionately common.”) Frankly, I’m having a hard time comprehending Mac and Cheese as a side dish, but if people in the South take pleasure in it, have at it, say I! Here’s a map of most Googled recipes:

Note Mac and Cheese showing up again in South and North Carolina, confirming the map above. Another map of most-Googled recipes, but different:

No doubt Maine googles “Pumpkin Whoopie Pie,” because it goes so well with coffee brandy, but why New Hampshire? But do note the enormous and wondrous regional variation, from those Whoopie Pies all the way down to flan de calabaza in Florida, and heading west to persimmon bread — what the heck is persimmon bread? — in California. (All of California?)

I confess that I find the national seeking out of conviviality (“firm defense of quiet material pleasure”) round the Thanksgiving table encouraging. More like this, please.

* * *

This being Naked Capitalism, I cannot forbear to add some material that’s a bit more newsy:

1) California communities will serve Thanksgiving dinner to thousands of Camp Fire evacuees CNN. Lincoln, CA is “are giving up their Thanksgiving plans to help prepare hundreds of meals for Paradise families who were displaced by the fire.”

[Lincoln] officials offered one of the community’s largest buildings, the McBean Pavilion, for the event. The city’s fire department donated more than 100 turkeys. Local wineries offered wine, and breweries offered beer.

A local casino is offering 100 apple pies and a community bakery is offering 100 pumpkin pies.

“I’m overwhelmed by it,” [Kris] Wyatt said. “Everyone is offering volunteering, doing table decorations and making signs.”

Wyatt said she’s heard from more than 100 volunteers who want to help set up, serve, clean up and create activities for the kids. She said they’re expecting more than 100 families from Paradise.

See above at conviviality. And notice they’re sharing. Not just individuals, but institutions. They’re not offering “50% off to Paradise residents, children under 5 FREE” either….

2) This $150,000 Thanksgiving dinner is the world’s most expensive Yahoo Finance:

This year’s dinner, which at a total price of $150,000 is nearly three times more than the average U.S. household income, comes complete with all of the world’s finest ingredients, as well as keys to a 2018 Maserati Levante nestled inside a $135-per-pound free-range, organic turkey sprinkled with gold flakes…. “Along with the [Thanksgiving dinner] package comes a great list of non-edible amenities,” [Old Homestead co-owner Marc Sherry] said. Among them are a $15,000 Black Friday shopping spree at iconic Manhattan retailers, concert tickets to a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden and a weekend getaway at the Poconos Cove Haven Resort, among other perks.

There’s much, much more, but then there’s this:

The dinner has to be paid upfront in cash or certified check.

Quite the contrast to Kris Wyatt’s Thanksgiving in Lincoln, CA. Back to the Third World–

3) Turkey and romaine lettuce recalls, food safety concerns loom this Thanksgiving USA Today

A turkey salmonella outbreak, potentially spread throughout the entire processing industry, has led health officials to advise extra caution to prevent food poisoning as cooks prepare the Thanksgiving turkey.

The outbreak identified earlier this month has hospitalized 63 people and sickened 164 in 35 states, killing one in California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

But health investigators have not been able to identify a single supplier of live turkeys or raw turkey products as the source of the outbreak. That has led them to say the strain involved may be widespread throughout the turkey industry including ground turkey, turkey patties and full turkeys.

“Have not been able to identify a single supplier….” gives me pause. From ESRI, a series of maps showiing where your Thanksgiving dinner comes from, here turkeys:

Minnesota raises more turkeys than any other state, followed by North Carolina, Arkansas, and Indiana. A far cry from the regional ingredients promoted by Slow Food. And there’s nothing less convivial than food poisoning, is there?[3]

4) Thanksgiving doesn’t have to cost so much Marketplace

In its survey of people hosting Thanksgiving dinner, LendingTree found the average feast feeds 11 guests, and hosts spend $251 on food and another $83 on dishes, decorations and other supplies.

That survey also asked respondents how much work they were missing. Those who took time off sacrificed some $587 in wages, on average. More than a quarter of hosts said Thanksgiving was a financial strain, but 76 percent of hosts also said they loved doing it.

Is there any better lesson for the holidays? Whether you’re serving an organic heirloom bird or a frozen Butterball, it’s important to weigh your emotional cost too.

11 people seems like a lot, to me! Very encouraging if you’re worried about “Bowling Alone.” But I dunno about that “emotional cost” concept they snuck in there. Surely the whole point of conviviality is that it’s not market-driven?

* * *

Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, I know this is the day before Thanksgiving, but I figure you’ll be too busy conviviating, eating, slumping onto the couch, watching the Lions lose again, and playing cards or charades to share your Thanksgiving thoughts tomorrow, so why not share them today?

NOTES

[1] Just like Election day, positioned on a Tuesday, which should also be a national holiday, but isn’t. Also like Canadian Thanksgiving, which takes place on the second Monday of October. I did attend a Canadian Thanksgiving one, in Anglophone Quebec, and the theory seemed much the same. But perhaps there were subtleties I missed.

[2] In my family, the process of sharing, which probably functioned because it never did include political discussions or, I think luckily, up-and-coming boyfriends, was in fact facilitated by two examples of contested history: The playing of Alice’s Restaurant and Stan Freberg’s The United States of America:

[3] Thanksgiving food safety tips.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

82 comments

  1. Vikas Saini

    Lambert, you forgot to mention that Canadian Thanksgiving is a month earlier because we Canadians have so much less to be thankful for!

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Hey, don’t sweat it. Back when the Bahamas were still a colony, we lived there for two years. Everyone there celebrated both English and American holidays. (Can’t have too much of a good thing, like going to the beach 365 days a year if you want to. I was a kid then, I wanted to. Drove Mom crazy.)
      Then the Mob moved in and built those d—-d casinos. Paradise Island was originally Hog Island. They should have left the name alone. It was so appropriate.

      Reply
  2. Whoa Molly!

    The traditional Thanksgiving movie at our house is Planes Trains and Automobiles.

    This year we bought a 4H turkey raised by a local 4H teen. Superb bird, but huge. We ended up cutting it in two and roasting 1/2 of the bird. The other half went to another family.

    The leftovers went into an instapot along with plenty of vegetables to make a very good turkey soup.

    We will be flying on Thanksgiving day. Never again. Doing so saved enough money to make it possible to see grandkids on the other coast on Thanksgiving day, but there’s something depressing about traveling on the actual day. It shouldn’t make a difference, but it does.

    Happy Thanksgiving to Yves, Lambert and the NC crew. I for one am thankful to have NC.

    Reply
  3. Clive

    Mac and Cheese as a side?

    These people must have some appetites. Yesterday I had a small plate of Mac and Cheese — just that, nothing else — as my main meal. It’s something I have about once a month, if I need a meal rustled up in a hurry. I had a couple of small ciabatta rolls to go with it.

    I could barely manage dessert afterwards. I couldn’t finish my cup of tea, I was so full up, which for me is like leaving a gold sovereign on the sidewalk.

    Try not to overeat, folks!

    Reply
    1. Angie Neer

      >Try not to overeat, folks!
      Ha ha, I love that dry English wit. Welcome to the U.S. of A.! Would you like some bacon on your Mac & Cheez?

      But seriously, many thanks to you, sir, for your many contributions to the discussions here. And many thanks to Lambert for his excellent observations about what is also my favorite holiday.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        The same here. What type of cheese to use on the macs can stir up controversy. I have actually heard, but did not want to believe my ears, Velveeta proposed as the ‘cheese’ in the Mac and Cheese.
        Conviviality does not guarantee amity.
        Oh, and, the Mirliton Casserole is an old tyme Louisiana side dish for Thanksgiving. I’ve had it many a time. Very good. (Once made it with mirlitons that ‘volunteered’ along a fence line at Phyl’s folk’s country place. They will run along a fence like lightning.)
        I’ve got to be the “hands” for the cook this Thanksgiving. Helping cook the feast adds an extra dimension of satisfaction to the experience.
        Happy Turkey Day to all!

        Reply
            1. Unna

              Stuffed Artichokes on that menu map. If only I could find a few nice large fresh ones, some imported Pecorino Romano, and so on. Serve them cold the next day like I’d get at my neighbor’s growing up.

              Reply
            2. witters

              Nope: Origin:

              Mid 18th century: from Spanish chocho, from a Brazilian Indian word. The current spelling dates from the early 20th century.

              In Australia, traditional to grow chokos over the outside dunny – leading to usages like this: “A choko is a vine that climbs and grows and crawls over anything, and so if someone is unable to run one of these vines over a shithouse (outside toilet), then they must be extremely dumb and completely incompetent.

              Example: He definitely isn’t very smart, he couldn’t even get the first 3 questions right. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t even run a choko vine over a shithouse.”

              Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                Gachhh! Chokes from when I was a kid here in Oz. The damn stuff grew everywhere and it all too often appeared on your dinner plate. Do not miss these at all. Nostalgia has its limits and if some started growing here I would gladly take a flamethrower to it.

                Reply
  4. Martin Finnucane

    Mac and Cheese is soul food. My wife, who is black and southern, is baking a huge dish of it as I write. With extra cheese and butter and … not sure I’m going to survive.

    I never heard of it as a kid (except the junk out the box), but it has become popular. You’ll always find it at meat-and-three type restaurants that we have around here.

    My favorite is corn bread dressing, which I think is uniquely southern, though I’m not sure.

    Reply
  5. Amfortas the hippie

    I have always lobbied hard to 1. do these winter holidays in June…and 2. abandon traditional fare and do things with shrimp or flounder or something
    # 1 because of the microbe swapping over great distances, and because I hate the cold and the crowds(the highway is alive with morons, at the moment,lol)
    #2 because we have a chef-in-residence(Me) who is underutilised.(I can cook a running dog, as it were)

    a good and safe day to you all…and as for foodborne illness…these are cheap and essential(calibrate them in ice water):
    https://www.webstaurantstore.com/5-probe-thermometer/913T220.html

    stick ’em into the “deepest” part of the meat, and it’s good to stick it in at the larger joints, too. for birds, 170 or so for me…but our birds were running around in the yard a day ago. 180 is recommended by the health inspectors, last I looked.
    The old adage from my cheffing days was that the danger zone of microbial proliferation was between 40 degrees and 140. so keep cold, cold and hot, hot.
    namaste

    Reply
  6. juliania

    It is my favorite holiday too, Lambert. When I wasn’t here, this is the one I missed the most. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Reply
  7. grayslady

    Thanks for the recent safety information on turkeys. I hadn’t seen any warnings in the local paper. We always have two thanksgiving meals–Thursday and Friday–since there is so much food. I will be sure to reheat the turkey servings to 165 degrees on Friday. I’m not sure what to do about turkey sandwiches though, which are always part of the leftovers that everyone enjoys. Cold turkey on oatmeal bread with plenty of Hellman’s mayo is an annual treat.

    Meanwhile, back to my apple pie construction. Based on the food maps, I am not the typical person from my state for Thanksgiving food selections. Everyone have a wonderful and safe holiday.

    Reply
  8. Lao Bai Xing

    Out here near the Left Coast bay, we’re thankful for rain and clean air, for as long as both last.

    I always thought Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe did Thanksgiving well in The Lay of the Land:

    “In my current state of mind, I’d, in fact, be just as happy to lose Christmas and its weak sister New Year’s, and ring out the old year quietly with a cocktail by the Sony. One of divorce’s undervalued dividends, I should say, is that the usual dismal holiday festivities can now be avoided, since no one who didn’t have to would ever think about seeing the people they used to say they wanted to see but almost certainly never did.

    And yet, Thanksgiving won’t be ignored. Americans are hard-wired for something to be thankful for. Our national spirit thrives on invented gratitude…. and it is churlish not to let the spirit swell – if it can – since little enough’s at stake. Contrive, invent, engage – take the chance to be cheerful. Though in the process, one needs to skirt the spiritual dark alleys and emotional cul-de-sacs, subdue all temper flarings and sob sessions with loved ones. Get plenty of sleep. Keep the TV on. Take B vitamins and multiple walks on the beach. Make no decisions more serious than lunch. Get as much sun as possible. In other words, treat Thanksgiving like jet lag.”

    Reply
    1. todde

      sometimses it takes a while to show

      or maybe you’re on the wrong thread.

      How controversial was your post on the ‘Thanksgiving rocks as a holiday’ thread?

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        It violated our written site Policies and hit a tripwire and went into moderation. And I’m not liberating it, since the comment that got through is also violates our site Policies, proving he did not bother to read them.

        Reply
  9. Branden H.

    I can’t speak for all of the south, but here in Tennessee, yes, mac & cheese is a side dish. At many of the meat & threes (restuarants where **spoiler** you pick a meat and three sides off the menu) in Nashville, mac & cheese is a side, but it’s not offered as an entree or main dish. I’m going to have to try that pumpkin whoopie pie.

    Reply
  10. polecat

    We at the polecat haus are running an experimental recipe:

    Boneless Pork Shoulder impregnated with garlic cloves, a combo of chipotle/ancho/cumin spread inside before the roast is tied, seasoned on it’s exterior with salt & pepper, browned all sides .. then put into an electric pressure cooker, with fresh-squeezed Clementine mandarin juice for the liquid quotient.

    I hope it tastes as good as it sounds. At least we’ll still have mashed taters, greenbeans, home-made dinner rolls and cherry pie if disaster strikes … I will bow down in supplication to the Gourmet Gods of food & mirth for success in my culinary endeavor before pressing the ON switch.

    Here’s to a pleasant and stress-free T-Day for you all !

    Reply
    1. Jen

      Sounds yummy! Let us know how it turned out.

      I’m going with maple brined pork tenderlion. Brine consists of maple syrup, maple sugar, apple cider, garlic, and various spices. Also hoping it tastes as good as it sounds. Mashed taters, carrots, brussel sprouts and apple pie are my backup.

      Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

      Reply
  11. CanCyn

    I wonder if dearly departed Anthony Bourdain is to blame for any extra surge in the popularity of mac & cheese? Just binge watched his Parts Unknown and he loved mac and cheese, he ate it many parts of USA.
    As for Thanksgiving I used to love it but I have to say that increased awareness of the plight of our indigenous folks has taken a lot of the pleasure out of it for me.
    I am working on building a tradition around winter solstice. A dearth of consumerism but full of slow cooking and a meal with friends and family, reflecting on lessons learned from the past year including burning away our regrets. And then greeting the first sun of the lengthening days.

    Reply
  12. Solar Hero

    Persimmons? Slightly sweet pear-y thing that drops in the bushels every November. Jam and bread made a lot, but the most are just compost!

    Reply
    1. Newton Finn

      …and a little more real? Nations, religions, even families, need their myths, but we also need to know that that is what they are. May we celebrate them with open hearts–and open eyes.

      Reply
    1. KPC

      While I certainly can and do appreciate the celebration of the harvest, Thanksgiving in USA is one of the marks of the commencement of genocide and the invasion of the Americas.

      As for Xmas? That is a part of this invasion where the “postmoderns” coopt the lessons of Abraham, Jesus and Mohammad. I am not Abrahamic in my personal faith but the spiritual side of life does exist and those who would deny this, however one addresses this personally, are very much a part of this entire problem explicitly including “climate change”, which is a consequence, not a cause.

      The “Pilgrims” were a “gang” giving Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh a bit of fit until Anne bounced them out… . And then the treasuries, and then the conveyancing systems and then the charge of the stewardship of Manhattan by the Federated Iroquois and we come to “first conveyance”?

      There are a few problems in your registries of deeds some of which long pre-date the more recent mortgage loan scams which Yves has addressed with excellence. But beware of the first conveyance because in the Commonwealth Massachusetts … . Nunca toca certain “countines” and towns. Mashpee on Cape Cod comes immediately to mind.

      Just to be clear, this ain’t limited to the Commonwealth and Manhattan.

      Happy Thanksgiving.

      History counts.

      Reply
  13. Dale

    I would say that in south west Georgia corn bread dressing makes the Thanksgiving table. Giblet gravy is served alongside in a gravy boat.

    Reply
  14. roadrider

    Well to each his/her own. I personally have never cared for Thanksgiving (or Christmas for that matter). Probably has to do with the travel I’ve had to do over the past 30 years and kind of a distaste for the traditional Thanksgiving fare. The whole thing just makes no sense to me at all. And before I get the knee-jerk response of “don’t you like visiting your family?” let me say that I’m happy to visit them any other time of year but not on the same day that everyone else in the country is doing the same [family-blog]ing thing. If Abe Lincoln had envisioned I-95, the NJ Turnpike and the Belt Parkway on the usual Thanksgiving travel days he would never have proposed this wretched holiday.

    I’ve personally declared my retirement from Thanksgiving travel after more than 30 years of slogs from either Philly or DC to Long Island (and the return trip is even worse). And, no, I cannot host Thanksgiving since I have a 1-bedroom apartment and none of my family lives closer than 260 miles from me.

    Other issues I have with Thanksgiving and Christmas: the incessant hype and price gouging for travel (if you’d rather just escape somewhere rather than “going to Grandmas”). Christmas is particularly bad for the hype. People used to wait until after Thanksgiving to start with the maudlin Christmas songs and decorations, now it seems to start right after Halloween. I suspect in 10 years it will start the day after Labor Day.

    King for a Day I would discard the idea of “national holidays” and just make them all optional. Take the day off if you like. Celebrate if you like. Or just ignore them, as I would.

    So I will enjoy my stress-free un-holiday tomorrow celebrating my liberation from the lemming-like behavior I felt obligated to participate in most of my life.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s true I never traveled for Thanksgiving, so that doesn’t weigh in the balance for me.

      On the other hand, I should say that being invited for Thanksgiving with friends, I having not traveled, is a real pleasure. It’s nice to be included. (I meant to say this in the post, but couldn’t work it in.)

      Reply
  15. Big River Bandido

    It’s my favorite holiday as well; I can acknowledge the tradition’s contested history, but also see at face value. Conviviality is merely one of the positive values of the day. There’s also reflection — gratitude for the harvest and for all those other things that make life meaningful and worthwhile — those were big deals in the small towns my parents grew up in, and where we always passed such holidays. I also like the ethos of the open door; Thanksgiving dinner in my family always included strangers — people passing through, people with no family or no place to go. As a putative adult I’ve tried to maintain that tradition — at least as best one can in a small studio apartment.

    Reply
  16. Kim Kaufman

    I made some apple/persimmon bread last week. Basically take a recipe for, say, apple or pumpkin or cranberry bread and throw some persimmons in. I can’t describe what they taste like but they’re good in any of the breads. One can also make persimmon cookies and persimmon cakes but haven’t done that. Is that really only a California thing? Also I like having a plateful in the kitchen to look at and they’re good in fall fruit smoothes (basically apple or pears).

    Happy holiday to all.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      My mother made persimmon pudding that I love. In Indiana, usually of native American persimmons, which are quite small.

      I like persimmon fresh, too; the flavor is indescribable, really. I usually use it as a sort of sauce.

      Couldn’t really deal with a treeful of them, though.

      Reply
      1. anon

        We’ve got a huge, very old persimmon tree in our back yard. It’s gotten very brittle and possibly nearing the end. But it still produces an abundance of persimmons, and it’s a wildlife mecca: Warblers, Kinglets, Woodpeckers, Ravens, Finches, Hummers, Squirrels by day, and raccoons at night.

        Reply
  17. Joe Well (JW)

    I’m from the squash part of the country. People from other parts of the country, do you really eat salad, mac and cheese, or biscuits (as opposed to rolls or cornbread) at Thanksgiving dinner? Really?

    Reply
    1. grayslady

      As someone who has spent almost every Thanksgiving in the Midwest, I can assure you that I have never seen biscuits–ever. We do like squash, though; it’s quite common as a Thanksgiving side dish.

      Reply
        1. Lee

          And currently, Romaine lettuce might kill you.

          I do like a simple salad on the side with a tart dressing, lemon juice and olive oil base, as a palate cleanser. It provides a nice counterpoint to rich food. A similar function to wine, which alas I no longer drink.

          Reply
    2. NotReallyHere

      Live in squash country too and yes we do mac n cheese as well. Perfect for the vegetarians who otherwise feel as though they are confined to the supporting role dishes and not the star of the show (turkey).

      Reply
  18. Jeremy Grimm

    My Thanksgiving will be small so I’m having duck. I love the flavor of duck although it is so rich I eat it less than I might otherwise. I picked a heavy red wine for the duck and plan to spice the duck generously to keep it competitive and complementary with the wine. Besides duck for dinner I look forward to turning the left-overs into duck-fried vegetable rice; duck soup using the duck bones and chicken broth with root vegetables; and if any fat is left I’ll use it to flavor a pot of quinoa with fried shallots and Romano cheese.

    Reply
      1. Lee

        Isn’t almost anything better than turkey? The problem lies in the abundance of white meat, which in birds that don’t use their flight muscles, is rendered relatively bloodless and therefore dry and tasteless.

        Reply
    1. David in Santa Cruz

      Sigh. That duck sounds delightful!

      Each of my grandparents was a 20th Century immigrant and English was my father Manuel’s “third” language (he was not a colorful Mexican or Puerto Rican Manuel, but a Manuel from that forsaken mid-Atlantic archipelago, the Azores). I just don’t “get” the food served on American Thanksgiving; especially the turkey. I think that it’s awful. However, my life-partner is descended from Iowan stock and was raised on military bases. The bland Thanksgiving meal has a quasi-religious connotation for her.

      As a compromise, our turkey has been steeping in a brine concocted from a recipe used at Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley — secretly spiked with liberal doses of red chili flakes and black peppercorns in the hope of my being able to choke-down the otherwise dry and flavorless meat.

      Oh, but roast duck and a solid red wine — now you’re talking!

      Reply
  19. Carla

    OKay, here’s the favorite Thanksgiving side-dish recipe in our family:

    1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix
    2 sticks salted butter (I know), melted and cooled
    1 15-oz. can creamed corn
    1 15-oz. can corn, drained– or 1-1/3 cups frozen corn, thawed
    8 oz. sour cream
    2 eggs, beaten

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Thoroughly combine cooled melted butter with muffin mix. Stir in and completely combine remaining ingredients. Turn into a greased 9×11 baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Yeah, we call it “heart attack on a plate.” But it’s SO good ! And it’s only once a year. (Oh, alright, I admit: sometimes we have it at Christmas, too.)

    Reply
      1. polecat

        lub dub .. lub dub .. lub Dub.. Lub DUB .. LUB DUB ————————– .. lub dub .. lub dub .. lub dub .. look out, here comes Dessert !!

        ‘;]

        Reply
  20. ewmayer

    Lambert, one of the snips you quoted puzzles me:

    “That survey also asked respondents how much work they were missing. Those who took time off sacrificed some $587 in wages, on average.”

    Huh? Why would you be “missing work” by taking time off on a holiday? Was that perhaps a reference to skipping Wednesday in order to travel home or to the designated venue?

    ——————————

    On a separate note – Alas, I will not be in a position to do a followup to my Hallmark Channel Xmas-movie-schmaltz-a-thon-lineup post of last year – turns out at my old residence my barebones Comcast cable package was getting enhanced by a half-dozen channels that weren’t supposed to be covered under same (e.g. AMC, USA, Hallmark), a fact I discovered after moving to a new place in late August and discovering the true meaning of “Limited Basic”. I can, however, at least see summaries of what’s playing on Hallmark. Currently showing … ooh, we got a musical celebrity sighting!

    It’s Christmas, Eve (2018), LeAnn Rimes, Tyler Hines (Romance, TVG): A school superintendent with a knack for turning around schools meets a single father who works as the head of the school’s bankrupt music department. As she rediscovers her passion for blah blah…

    Sorry, the blurb got replaced by the that for the movie starting at 8pm while I was transcribing it. Next up, a film starring leads with interestingly formed first names (‘Beverley’, ‘Candus’ – is that second one the name of an actress with a weird alternate spelling of Candace or a guy named after some kind a masculine equivalent of ‘Candy’?):

    Reunited at Christmas (2018), Beverley Breuer, Candus Churchill (Drama, TVG): As a child, Samatha spent every Christmas at her beloved Nana’s house building the traditions of fun and joy with her family. Sam is facing the first Christmas without Nana and still struggling to find the Christmas spiriti when she gets a surprise.

    I write this in hopes that a fellow NCer who is either a fan of such ‘TV comfort food’ fare or willing to ‘take one for the team’ will watch a few of these over the next few days and be kind enough to report back to us as to how closely the formulaic template I described last year is still being followed. Whatever your plans for the holiday, best wishes for a happy and safe one!

    Reply
    1. jrs

      It might be for taking Friday off. But also yes of course some people LOSE money for not working Thursday. Do you think contingent/temp/contract workers get paid holidays? Haha. And THIS is what work is becoming (it’s why the election day should be a holiday argument also falls flat). But whether you can go to work depends on if the workplace is even open, if not you still get less pay next paycheck, but it’s not like there was any choice. Others who do get paid holidays, may turn down overtime they could have earned for working a holiday.

      But unless you are going to go without necessities RIGHT NOW due to having the day off, may as well enjoy the day just like everyone who gets paid for it. Tomorrow will take care of itself one way or other. We have neither benefits (like paid holidays) nor a safety net oftentimes in this shithole country. But still unless we are starving we have this day to eat and be merry. Happy Thanksgiving.

      Reply
  21. Ignacio

    In 1996/1997 I was living in California and went for thanksgiving to Prescott, Arizona with some relatives of mine and their neighbours. I had a real american thanksgiving experience. It really was a nice experience, I also like thanksgiving!

    So, for you Lambert, and all the american NC community: HAVE A NICE DAY, ENJOY IT!!!

    Reply
  22. Phillip Allen

    I have no memory of a Thanksgiving growing up that wasn’t a misery, as everyone pretended for a long afternoon to be living a life free of dysfunction. From the time I came to understand what a coma was, I fantasized of going into one somewhere around November 15 to emerge in time for New Year (which oddly I rather liked). The distance of decades has lessened the intensity of what I feel around the holidays, and I’ve found alternate ways of framing these annual exercises in whatever they are for people. I am particularly fond, old dog that I am, of this recent creation of a 7 year old, Woolfenoot:

    My son has invented a holiday called Wolfenoot.

    It is when the Spirit of the Wolf brings and hides small gifts around the house for everyone. People who have, have had, or are kind to dogs get better gifts than anyone else.

    You eat roast meat (because wolves eat meat) and cake decorated like a full moon.

    I will be offering snootboops tomorrow (and hermiting today). (wolfenoot.com, if you’re inclined to explore.)

    Pleasant holiday of choice to all!

    Reply
      1. Phillip Allen

        Seems like it was created very recently – the official FB group was started ~ 2 months ago, I think very shortly after ‘Wolfenoot Mom’ first posted her son’s idea. The first post of the official Twitter account was on September 30. (It came to my notice 3-4 weeks ago.) The New Zealand kid’s holiday has apparently caught enough attention to give rise to opportunist knock offs, which I guess is a certain testimony to the holiday’s appeal. We’ll see if next November 23rd if interest has sustained or grown.

        Reply
    1. MoBee

      Just pursued your site/social media, and Wolfenoot sound great! I think I’ll add it to my pantheon of holidays. I’ll leave eating the meat to the wolves, though. : ) More for them!

      Pronunciation…wolf-newt? wolf-uh-newt? The latter flows better, methinks.

      Reply
      1. Phillip Allen

        Wolfenoot FAQ

        How do you pronounce “Wolfenoot”?

        Wolf (soft English W) – a – noot (to rhyme with suit).

        wolfenoot.com/wolfenoot-faq/

        Reply
    2. Lee

      The wolf is my totemic spirit animal and I happily share roasted meats with my dogs. But if they get near the Dungeness crab, which is my seasonal, locally caught favorite, I’ll growl and snap at them. Given the market prices, it is fortunate that I’ve got a son adept at catching them for the Thanksgiving table. Kudos to the kids.

      Reply
  23. Unna

    Slow Food Movement, some random thoughts: I’ve been familiar with this movement for awhile and once had thought I might participate but never did. The philosophy behind it is the right one: cook slowly from basic ingredients which don’t have chemicals, and cook and eat as a family if possible. Rule: If your grandmother wouldn’t have recognized it as food, don’t eat it.

    Every kid, as young as possible, should learn to cook from scratch. How to make a pancake batter from scratch, or a cake, or cookies. Scrambled eggs. A simple roast chicken or roast pork, and so on. That way they’ll develop a need to experience the flavour of real food.

    Keep the kids away from commercial fast food. Fast food is dumbed down food since all it is is an insipid taste combination of salt, grease, glycemic inputs, delivered via various but fairly similar texture mediums. Get them to understand MacDonald’s not a treat but as an infliction, as a negative where “the Other” goes to gratify baser instincts.

    Pick out a traditional national cuisine and explore it. No gimmick food. Then explore another. Stay away from Kid’s cook books. Kids love to cook, they like the interaction and attention, like the feeling of accomplishment, and most of all like eating good tasting food. Once they’re hooked on the good stuff they won’t be able to tolerate the bad stuff.

    And furthermore and apart from whatever else may be considered, and I declare this as a proud Canadian,

    Tim Horton’s delenda est.

    Reply
    1. Kurt Sperry

      Slow food was, I think, born here in Italy and it isn’t just about slow cooking food but about not taking shortcuts in the preperation of food. It is, as you say, about cooking from scratch using simple, basic, non-prepared ingredients and allowing the time to luxuriantly enjoy them at the table. Some of the courses might be cooked immediately before serving still, some very worthy dishes almost demand that. And it is necessary to allow that time to make meals a social event, not a hurried business transaction. It’s often done in people’s homes, but there are restaurants as well who have embraced its principles. It is, I imagine, a challenge for a restaurant and clintele accustomed to service on demand to adjust, the slow prepared meal might need to be served at a set time and the guests have to accomodate and schedule for that. It’s very different to what we are used to.

      The traditional American Thanksgiving where it takes all day to prepare the meal, where the kitchen is a social space where things take as much time as they take, and the enjoying of the resulting meal might take a couple of hours of family and friends convivially sharing the table is an excellent example of the idea. The time necessary to prepare and bake a turkey large enough for a large table of guests and at the same time to prepare all the side dishes almost forces a slow food approach.

      I had pumpkin pie, well wonderful butternut squash pie, from scratch for lunch among friends as nod to the American holiday today, and I wish everyone a happy, social, and unhurried Thanksgiving.

      Reply
    1. Lee

      Good recommendations both. I usually record and binge Dr. Who around Christmas and New Year. However, this year for the first time ever there is a female Doctor played by an actor I quite like so I’m sorely tempted to fire up the Tardis early.

      Reply
  24. Fazal Majid

    It’s also non-denominational. Christians, Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Flying Spaghetti Monster devotees all celebrate it alike.

    Although just say no to turkey. My forebears does not have to atone for massacring Indians, so my family celebrates Thanksgiving with steak.

    Reply

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