Time to break out the hammer and nail and add a few notches to your belts, because the most face-stuffing season of the year is upon us once again.
Thanksgiving is, and has been, my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. And not because, as my Mom used to always say, it is one of the only holidays that centers around simply being with your family rather than buying “stuff” for them. No, it is because of the food.
While my wife probably isn’t looking forward to the annual 7-10 lbs. of base layer blubber that I usually pick up over the next 45 days, I sure am. And the opening ceremonies are less than a week away.
The Thanksgiving meal is one that is nearly always steeped in tradition, and it seems like everyone I know has some sort of Thanksgiving tradition that, when “messed with”, sets off a sometimes violent reaction. And this usually comes down to one or more of the dishes served each year.
I vividly remember the year that my brother-in-law volunteered to contribute the sweet potato casserole. I don’t think my sister has really forgiven him yet for putting marshmallows on top and “messing with” her one dish. It amounted to blasphemy – a dish that, when omitted or done “wrong”, becomes the only thing you remember about that Thanksgiving.
Given my love of fried turkeys – in fact, I’ve got one shot up with Cajun butter in the fridge right now I’m prepping for a potluck this weekend – you’d think that it is the bird that I revere most each November, but you’d be wrong. While I love a well-made turkey, you can swap it out with a turducken, goose, ham, whatever you want….but don’t @#%! with the dressing, you hear me?
Unless there is a pan of my grandmother’s cornbread dressing – heavy with sage, butter, pulled chicken bits, and more butter – then it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving to me. I’ve had many other great dressings, but unless I get a taste of the one I grew up on, it leaves a hole in my holiday. And as if she needed to remind me how much she loves me, my mom always manages to make a few extra pans for me to take home and live off of until Christmas.
I know that I’m not alone on this, and I’ve seen some passionate responses from friends and family on the same issue, but usually not over the same dish.
What is your “one dish” this Thanksgiving? What is the one dish that, if forgotten, substituted, or botched, will be the rock stuck in the shoe of this year’s feast, bugging you the whole time? What is that one dish that, if missing, will ruin Thanksgiving?
- By Jon Watson, Food and More blog