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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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The Proper Way to Celebrate Someone Else's Holiday

On the first Thanksgiving she invited us, she told me that she was “going to do something different” and that a big saddle of veal would be the centerpiece of the meal.

I was shocked and told her that if she didn’t cook turkey, I wasn’t coming. She switched to turkey, even including “turkey fry,” or testicles, which she found at her butcher shop. We fried it and divided it among the unknowing guests, who loved it.

Um. Just think twice before inviting the devastatingly charming French chef, Jacques Pepin, to Thanksgiving dinner, is all. He goes on to list his must haves, which include stuffing (no prob), cranberry sauce (as long as it's not the chunky kind, you got it), sweet potatoes (duh) and pear cider (who?). Oh, and would you mind skipping the fryer and steaming the bird? You're a gem.

86 Comments / Post A Comment

TheLetterL

Cranberry Sauce ala Bart.

area@twitter

@TheLetterL "Mom, it's broken. Mom, it's broken. Mom, it's broken. Mom, it's broken."

Tuna Surprise

I fell in love with Thanksgiving, and it has remained my favorite of all holidays — maybe because it makes no explicit appeal to patriotism, politics or a particular religion, and it’s not centered on children, like the egg roll at Easter or the Santa Claus tradition, with its largess of Christmas presents. There are no gifts to bestow on anyone, except the gift of being together and sharing nourishment.

Co-signed x 1000. I'm trying to import Thanksgiving this year to my friends in London but they are suspicious of any more American cultural creep. However, if anything American deserves to be exported and adopted worldwide, Thanksgiving is surely it.

Lisa Frank

@Tuna Surprise Yes Yes Yes! What I really love about Thanksgiving is that it's a "no pressure" holiday. It's just about food, friends and family. I think so many other holidays have expectations and room for disappointment, but with Thanksgiving the only expectation is that you'll eat yourself into a coma. And that lack of pressure leads to much less family squabbling than Christmas or New Year's.
And I highly recommend doing Thanksgiving abroad! I did it when I lived in Israel and even though people were confused by it, everyone ended up enjoying themselves. Although one of my British friends called it, "your silly American Christmas dress rehearsal."

Judith Slutler

@Tuna Surprise I started doing Fakesgiving (so called because there is no turkey and it's not on actual Thanksgiving) last year, and I am hoping it'll become a fun tradition!

OhMarie

@Emmanuelle Cunt I have Fakesgiving! It used to be just making a turkey at home because we had to travel for Thanksgiving and couldn't get leftovers, but now I invite friends. It's on Saturday.

mangosara

@OhMarie this is a thing! It's called Friendsgiving! it's like Thanksgiving except a potluck and also not on Thanksgiving.

...At least, it's a thing in my life.

leonstj

@mangosara - At my house in N. Brooklyn, I call it "Drunksgiving". My friends who can't get to their families come over to my place Wednesdsy night, we get really drunk and read poetry and listen to 90s hiphop & R+B, fall asleep on couches.

Thursdays I make my hungover friends eggs as we watch the Thanksgiving Parade, and I serve them a traditional thanksgiving meal as we watch football.

It is the best thing ever. I'm never ever not hosting thanksgiving again, i love it so much. one of my favorite days of the year.

FromTheFuture

@OhMarie we call it "Friendsgiving"

Judith Slutler

@leon s "Drunksgiving" is also not bad.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@Emmanuelle Cunt My friends and I call our Thanksgiving Eve bar crawl "Dranksgiving"!

planforamiracle

@Lisa Frank Totally agree with these reasons for loving Thanksgiving!

Though, as a Canadian, I had to laugh at the "your silly American Christmas dress rehearsal." American Thanksgiving has always struck me as being awfully close to Christmas; I prefer my holidays more evenly distributed throughout the year thankyouverymuch.

This year I got to do regular Thanksgiving with my extended family, and also went to a friend's house for Friendsgiving. It was the best Thanksgiving weekend ever.

OhMarie

@planforamiracle That's interesting, I was listening to a Canadian podcast (Stop Podcasting Yourself, it's Vancouver-based and super good) and they were talking about how awful it was that November didn't have it's own holiday. I just kept thinking, you fools! Your Thanksgiving is too early!!

planforamiracle

@OhMarie I love Stop Podcasting Yourself! Hmm, maybe Vancouver is just more depressing in November? I live in Toronto and have only visited the west coast in spring and summer.

OhMarie

@planforamiracle Yay SPY! I have never been but I was under the impression that Vancouver was actually significantly better than the rest of the country in winter? Or maybe not if it's gloomy/rainy instead of nice and snowy?

Inconceivable!

@Tuna Surprise
Do it! I've been abroad on two different Thanksgivings, with groups of people from various countries, and I had a blast both times. Some non-Americans treated it with skepticism at first, but the rest of us just sort of rolled on ahead, and they got aboard the Thanksgiving train eventually.

Part of the fun is trying to find ingredients that aren't as common in your part of the world. Our Egyptian pumpkin pie was a masterpiece, I must say, but the one can of cranberries we found: not so good.

Ophelia

@Inconceivable! Yes! I had a delicious Thanksgiving in Dublin one year, though I was directed to the soda aisle of the grocery store 3 times before finding butternut squash in the farmers market. It was also my first experience with sweet potato pie.

churlishgreen

@Tuna Surprise Keep trying. When I worked at the British Embassy in DC, I styled myself as the Ambassador of Thanksgiving and invited Brits and other diplomatic colleagues every year. It was great fun for everybody (especially me).

Now I'm in a different line of work, but my husband and I usually celebrate with good friends who are American and German. Most of the Germans were exchange students in the US and retain a lot of enthusiasm for the holiday (and for the next day's shopping).

octagonfudge

@Tuna Surprise Well, it's just after 4 and kind of dark already, but we did get some sun today. It's wet and gloomy, but I'll take it over -30 and snow ANY DINGDONG DAY.

astrangerinthealps

@Lisa Frank Thanksgiving abroad, yeah. When I was studying abroad I made Thanksgiving dinner for like ten friends. They were highly skeptical of my American face-stuffing ritual, but after my Italian friends contributed some gorgeous roast fennel and the eastern Europeans brought beets and the Austrians made the apple pie with brandy in it, everybody was happy.

PistolPackinMama

@FromTheFuture We call ours Thanksibling, and it much like @LSJ's, except no football, and a season of Doctor Who instead.

Also we make duck or goose instead of turkey, and roast potatoes rather than mash them.

lizardjellybean

@Tuna Surprise So this is a reach, maybe, but my sister goes to school at Western, in London Ontario, and I'm heading up to her for American Thanksgiving, since she doesn't get time off from school. Would you maybe happen to know of a place somewhere between London and Toronto where we could get something like a turkey dinner? Or a Thanksgiving sort of dinner? The closest I think I've found is a place that does open-faced turkey sandwiches. And I totally realize that this is like someone asking me what's good to eat between Chicago and Detroit, but maybe maybe maybe you know? Ehhh? Thanks!

Emby

If you're making a small bird for only a few people, may I recommend slow-cooked turkey? It's ridiculously easy, falls off the bone it's so tender, and is deliciously juicy. But unless you have the world's biggest crock pot, you'll probably have just do a small breast or something.

Megasus

@Emby Mmmm I'm gonna get some turkey breast and do this. I love turkey. (I live in Canada so we already had Thanksgiving)

Cawendaw

@Emby Related, if you have a small enough bird and a big enough pot (which doesn't need to be industrial kitchen big, just big enough to physically hold however much of the turkey you're planning to serve) you can poach the turkey. This was my favorite and only method of pulling off Thanksgiving in an apartment with no kitchen equipment other than a two-burner stove, a faucet and a microwave. I never managed to do a whole turkey at once, but if you get a small-ish bird and remove the legs the rest of it can be squished in (after it's thawed, of course).

Lily Rowan

But what about the crispy skin and gravy?? Those are the two best parts about roasting a turkey, IMO.

ayo nicole

@Lily Rowan We did a tiny Thanksgiving last year and roasted a few breasts in the oven. Crispy skin without having to roast a whole bird!

EdgyLatinist

@Emby My mother actually has a thing she calls the "Turkey Cooker" that is, essentially, the world's biggest Crock-Pot. It's awesome because it leaves more room in the oven for delicious pies!

Amphora

@EdgyLatinist My mom has something like that, a giant "Turkey Roaster" that otherwise lives in the basement. One year she got ambitious and roasted a whole goose in it for Christmas. You could easily fit a suckling pig in that monster.

The Lady of Shalott

My constant recommendation is: BBQ your turkey. My parents have been doing this on their charcoal Weber grill for 20+ years and it always turns out awesome. Stuff your turkey with quartered citrus fruits. Cook it over indirect heat between 2 1/4-3 hours, using your meat thermometer. Let it rest a half-hour before you slice it, covered in foil.

DONE. Super easy. Super delicious. Keeps your oven free for anything else.

redheadedtwit

Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE and I- like many others- am SO SICK of X-mas creeping into November. BACK OFF. Also- there are those that say we shouldn't complain because Christmas is about CHRIST and He should have all the time he needs. Bah Humbug. This humble pagan/agnostic/atheist says back off and let me have my Turkey Day in peace.

Bittersweet

@redheadedtwit Heck, this humble Christian says back off and let me have my Turkey Day in peace. There's plenty of time for Christ during Advent.

Reginal T. Squirge

Why would you do that!?

SURPRISE! You just ate balls.

JessicaLovejoy

@Reginal T. Squirge Because they're dicks. I bet he laughs like a Frenchman in an old, vaguely jingoistic cartoon.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@JessicaLovejoy : He's actually a sort of casual acquaintance of mine,* and I can say that his accent is completely undiluted and totally delightful. If he had a moustache to twirl while laughing, he would.

* like, "oh hey, I see you like twice a year"

nowwhat

In my family it has to be Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, slid intact out of the can, then sliced in circles along the indentations and presented on a platter spread with a bit of overlap, like playing cards.

Daisy Razor

@nowwhat Yes! My family too. Which is hilarious because we are otherwise an everything-from-scratch family, so the can-shaped sauce looks like the broke cousin of everything else on the table.

JessicaLovejoy

He's a dick, but it turns out she's a dick too, so I guess it's fine.

stuffisthings

@JessicaLovejoy Are you describing the article or the plot of every romantic comedy ever?

meetapossum

I would've never thought to add perry to a Thanksgiving meal, but now I wonder why I never did.

Briony Fields

I'm having a Thanksgiving dinner with some of my ESL students and even after all our discussions about traditional Thanksgiving food, and despite my attempts to influence their food choices, they insist on bringing:
-Chicken kebabs with peanut butter sauce
-Spicy pumpkin coconut soup
-Scones with clotted cream
-Baguettes with jam

I am bringing stuffing.

Blackwatch Plaid

@Briony Fields ...I would happily attend this Thanksgiving.

thenotestaken

@Briony Fields That sounds AMAZING!

MoxyCrimeFighter

@Briony Fields Where is the scones-toting ESL student from? Are there scone-y countries that don't speak English?

That menu sounds straight-up amazing, though - what could be more symbolic of the first Thanksgiving than a multicultural menu?

RK Fire

@Briony Fields: Hahaha, growing up my family regularly had spring rolls at our Thanksgiving dinner. To be fair though, spring rolls are a regular staple at all of our family gatherings.

Mental note: as an adult (apparently), I need to figure out my own spring roll recipe.

Briony Fields

@MoxyCrimeFighter They're from Germany and Russia, mostly. They had an English teacher from Oxford who made scones for them once, and they've been obsessed ever since! Who can blame them though? Scones are delicious!

MoxyCrimeFighter

@Briony Fields Ohhhh, interesting! I very much like that idea - this is obviously wrong, but I'm imagining the English teacher from Oxford as an old-school British nanny.

Ophelia

@Briony Fields ...but how do they PRONOUNCE "scone"?

Bittersweet

@Briony Fields One year, my cousin brought Japanese exchange students with her to our family Thanksgiving, and we had sushi and shrimp dumplings along with the turkey and stuffing. It was awesome.

astrangerinthealps

@Briony Fields That sounds like a good meal to me. I've been known to obsess over the perfect menu, but at Thanksgiving I'm big on the rule that every single food is welcome (except lettuce salad, come ON), because if Thanksgiving isn't about sharing and welcoming then why are we even. If your guests bring shrimp fried rice, sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut milk, sweet potato-groundnut stew, and a Jello-Cool Whip salad, then that's your Thanksgiving dinner. 

At the same time when I plan the menu myself I keep it super-whitebread. We don't let any of our foreign roots show at Thanksgiving, even the most recent ones. Maybe we need to change that rule.

Beatrix Kiddo

What kind of a horrible, antisocial, control freak refuses to go to someone else's dinner because the chef isn't cooking what he or she wants to eat? I mean, I think turkey is boring and bland, but if someone really wants me to come over for Thanksgiving dinner, I'll show up and not make a big narcissistic deal about it.

The Lady of Shalott

@Beatrix Kiddo Yeah, this. I don't care if you ARE Jacques Pepin: that's incredibly poor etiquette.

As Miss Manners is constantly trying to tell us, etiquette is about making everyone feel as comfortable as possible in social situations. Demanding someone serve your particular food or you're NOT COMING? That is not going to make your host feel comfortable. Also, it makes you a dickbag.

Beatrix Kiddo

@The Lady of Shalott It defeats the entire purpose of Thanksgiving-- and of eating with friends in general. No matter what the food is, it's supposed to be about the PEOPLE.

Ophelia

@Beatrix Kiddo Also, pretty sure there was venison at Thanksgiving #1, so veal doesn't seem like SO much of a stretch.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@Beatrix Kiddo : I'm going to guess that the tone of the comment doesn't come across well in print, because the Jacques I know would certainly say "if you are not cooking the turkey, then I am not arriving!" but he'd do it with his best self-mocking faux-hauteur, because he really is funny like that. And then he'd show up anyway.

fondue with cheddar

There are a lot of foods I can't eat, so one of the great things about Thanksgiving for me is that there's such a wide variety of foods that I can load up my plate without having to eat everything.

parallel-lines

Turkey is so awful. So, so, so awful--how many times have you had turkey that's not dry as a desert? C'mon, be honest here? We're talking white meat, btw. I've only had good turkey once and it was deep fried--and after two hour in the fridge is was back to being dry as all 'effing get out. There's always so many leftovers and it gets less edible with every passing day...

I commend this person looking to serve something less boring, dry and bland than turkey. I would kill--KILL--to not have to choke down more dry, crappy turkey smothered in gravy so it has just enough lubrication that I can choke it down.

(sorry for the rant--I've been begging my husband to try to wrassle thanksgiving dinner away from his parents, it was so awful and inedible last year).

Judith Slutler

@parallel-lines My dad makes turkey that is so moist and delicious that I cheat on my vegetarianism for it. idk how it works but he makes it on the grill as The Lady of Shalott suggests above.

parallel-lines

@parallel-lines Also--on Iron Chef last night they did what likely would have been ingredients for the first thanksgiving and they served DUCK AND VENISON! Oh my word, both are so delicious and MUCH better than turkey. I'd eat the hell outta some duck!

parallel-lines

@Emmanuelle Cunt I like butter and all, but turkey is a mild enough meat that it needs something else to make it not taste like nothing--does anyone add herbs to their turkeys? I feel like it'd make a huge difference and make it much tastier.

City_Dater

@parallel-lines

Basting.
Or, for the lazy, sticking lots and lots of little slices of butter all along the breast of the fowl under its skin. White meat stays juicy while dark meat gets evenly cooked. And, well, BUTTER.
I am lazy.

City_Dater

@parallel-lines

Herb butter! Rosemary is awesome with turkey, or use whatever you like.

the roughest toughest frail

@parallel-lines I'm with you -- I hate turkey. I've only ever had turkey that didn't taste like sawdust once -- it was brined first, then coated in butter.

Beatrix Kiddo

@parallel-lines Agreed. Turkey is like a blander version of chicken, and chicken is fine, but never amazing. Holiday foods should be celebratory! Something you can't eat all the time!

Ophelia

@City_Dater This also works really well for baked chicken. (you can mix the butter with olive oil if you want it to spread more easily). OH, and GARLIC.

parallel-lines

@Ophelia If someone made me this turkey I would not complain, not even one peep: http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-menus-from-daniel-humm-larry-and-marc-forgione.html#photo=2x00014

KatPruska

@parallel-lines I totally just ordered a goose from the butcher. I can make turkey whenever, but I need a festive excuse for spending this much money on a dead bird I'm going to cook and eat. My older brother and I will be having a Thanksgiving experiment!

Judith Slutler

@parallel-lines Fresh rosemary and oregano I think.

TheLetterL

@parallel-lines Don't forget the aromatics. Last year, per St. Alton Brown, I filled that turkey's butt with onion, apple, cinnamon, rosemary, and sage. It was fabulous.

Alli525

@KatPruska My mom and brother are visiting me for Christmas, and I can't decide whether to cook a goose or a rabbit!

Amphora

@parallel-lines I'm horrified: does anyone NOT add herbs to their turkey?? And not slather it with butter all over?? And not either buy it brined or brine it themselves??

astrangerinthealps

@parallel-lines The past few years I've gotten a free-range turkey (just because the Butterball ones hurt my feewings) and I have to say, that shit is never dry. It cooks up perfectly, a lot faster than the regular bird. Just to be on the safe side I tend to mix up an herb butter and spread on the breast under the skin. Thanksgiving comes but once a year. That is no time to skimp on butter.

redheadedtwit

@City_Dater I've done one turkey- and I put rosemary under the skin with butter, and quartered apples and onions in the cavity. It was delish!

Blushingflwr

@parallel-lines All the time. My father used to make turkey on a regular basis, not just holidays, and it was pretty much always moist and delicious.
Butter under the skin, smattering of herbs/spices, roast in oven. It's not that complicated. The best was the year he cleaned out the spice drawer at the same time. Bay leaves stuffed inside.

Lisa Frank

Rosemary, thyme, oregano and/or marjoram! Also lots and lots of olive oil! I think it helps to buy a fresher turkey from a local source than a packaged Butterball from the supermarket. And I just cut into the leg joint to make sure it's not pink, and then I consider it done. Maybe that's not the accepted method, but all the turkey's I've roasted have been picked clean.

sony_b

NOOOOOOO. Chunky cranberrie sauce, and Jezebel sauce! (I do not object to the can, I am in favor of all three, actually.) I am the evangelist of this stuff, from an ancient cooking light recipe - homemade cranberry sauce with horseradish and dijon mixed in. Sounds disgusting. Is divine on any meat. Trust.

Beatrix Kiddo

@sony_b That doesn't sound remotely disgusting. But then again, I'm not a huge fan of a plain, sweet, fruity sauce for meat. Mustard and horseradish would make it much better!

sony_b

@Beatrix Kiddo - found the actual recipe -

Prepare cranberry sauce per instructions on 12 oz bag-o-fresh
cranberries, but use 1 cup water, 1/2 c white sugar, 1/2 c brown sugar

When it has cooled stir in 3T horseradish and 1T dijon mustard.

ta-da. I make a double batch, and then leave half plain cran sauce and half jezebel.

Ophelia

@sony_b I like to make the homemade stuff, but substitute orange juice for the water.

parallel-lines

@sony_b On Iron Chef last night they did something similar but threw in one or two jalapenos and it looked amazing http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/cranberry-jalapeno-relish-recipe/index.html

City_Dater

@Ophelia

Get out! We really are the same person, happily serving our oil and butter covered chickens and turkeys and our cranberry sauce made with OJ...

Ophelia

@City_Dater Can you imagine the piles of deliciousness our Thanksgiving table would have?

falafelwaffle

My dad makes fab turkey, and his trick is spatchcocking (???!!!) it. Cut out the backbone of the bird so the whole thing butterflies in a big dish and bake it like that. Everything cooks evenly, so the white meat stays moist. No Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving pics, but we prefer tasty turkey.

parallel-lines

@falafelwaffle This makes sense, but WOOF, could be labor intensive! Spatchcooking a cornish game hen almost sent me to the hospital for stitches. Here's Martha making it look easy: http://www.marthastewart.com/275445/how-to-spatchcock-a-turkey/@center/276949/everything-thanksgiving

City_Dater

@parallel-lines

Martha makes everything look easy. I too want an army of assistants hidden in the "real" kitchen while I radiate calm in the very clean alternate reality TV kitchen...

schrodingers_cat

My family used to have salmon every year for Thanksgiving. Guests occasionally got upset about the lack of turkey, but fuck them, that whole sockeye salmon was delicious.

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