Thanksgiving

thanksgivingpopcornYou've heard of Thanksgiving stuffing, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving turkey. But have you heard of Thanksgiving popcorn? Of course you haven't. That's because I just created it.

Why "Thanksgiving" popcorn? Read on.

I handed Jeff a bowl of popcorn and said, "Here, try this." He ate a couple of handfuls and said, "This is the best popcorn you've ever made."

"Really?" I said. (I thought my best was my maple walnut popcorn.)

He took another handful and tossed it in his mouth. "Oh, yeah. This is definitely the best. What's it called?" he asked.

"I don't know. I can't think of a name I like," I said.

"You should call it Thanksgiving popcorn. It's got all the flavors and smells of Thanksgiving," he said.

And that, my friends, is how today's popcorn got its name. Hmmm... I wonder if I can get my own Wikipedia entry for it.

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sweet-potatoes.jpgdavidlatt.jpgIn our house Thanksgiving is the one day a year my wife is in charge of the cooking.  Because I work at home, part of my day-time ritual is to shop for and cook our dinners.  But for Thanksgiving, I’m her sous chef.  She tells me the menu and I prep the mise en place, so everything is ready for her.

Besides corn bread stuffing with Italian sausages, dried apricots, and pecans, a 24-pound organic turkey with mushroom gravy, home made cranberry sauce, string beans sautéed with almonds, oven roasted Brussels sprouts, and an arrugula salad with persimmons, pomegranate seeds, and roasted hazelnuts, she makes garlic mashed potatoes. 

This past year I’ve been experimenting with sweet potatoes.  I made them for her to see what she thought. With a light dusting of cayenne, after you’ve enjoyed the sweetness of the sweet potato, your mouth is surprised with a hint of heat that drives you back for more.  She agreed that the yams are delicious: sweet, salty, savory, “meaty” (from the mushrooms”), and buttery from the butter.  For Thanksgiving they’ll be added to the menu.

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victorian_thanksgiving.jpgIn a Thanksgiving article Harper’s Bazaar published in 1900, the author, Anna Wentworth Sears, recommends a jolly game of Pin The Head On The Turkey.  Rather than a tail and donkey, this requires a large paper bird missing his noggin which, given the bill of fare, seems to me not so jolly and also somewhat tragic.  But that’s just me. She also suggests, should this game grow tiresome, that ‘reciting Longfellow’s poetry to music’ makes for swell after-dinner fun.

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ImageIt is 3:30PM November 26, 2009. I take a deep breath as I swallow a spoonful of green bean casserole—probably from my third round of food. I look at the table to see what is left for another helping. My eyes get big as I notice that the vegetarian stuffing hasn’t been touched and that there are a few shrimps left at the end of the table. “Yes!—I think.” Shortly after, I go into a food coma, throw on my sweatpants, and curl into a ball for an afternoon nap. Not before long, I awake and pounce on apple pie for dessert. This is Thanksgiving…this is a true American Thanksgiving. This year I won’t be having one of those. This year I will be saying “Grazie” rather than “Thank you” and I will be stuffing my body with endless baskets of bread, bowls of pasta, and bites of pizza. This year I will spend Thanksgiving in Florence, Italy.

It was just two years ago that I spent Thanksgiving in Rome, Italy. At the time, the class that I had studied abroad with was fortunate enough to have our group leaders organize a Thanksgiving dinner at one of the most prestigious hotel rooftops in all of Italy, The Marriott on Via Veneto. As a few of my roommates, my brother, and I approached the beautiful hotel, we began to ponder what we would be filling our plates with that night. Of course I cried out, “There better be green bean casserole.”

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