Fowl Family Traditions

Whether you are American or not, I am guessing there is a possibility that you will be eating turkey this week. Definitely if you are American, and even if you’re not, I imagine you know an American who is taunting you with turkey this week.

Because yes, it is thanksgiving. And I am guessing, if you are not American, you really don’t get what the day is all about. I mean you know – just guessing.

Of course you have the historical roots. Pilgrims arrived to what is now called the United States. The original thanksgiving dinner was supposed to have taken place at Plymouth Rock in 1621, when the Pilgrims finally had a good harvest thanks to the Wampanoag Native Americans who provided them with seeds and taught them how to fish.

But this history is contested and controversial – The Addams Family might actually provide a more accurate account of what occurred during that period of history (man, who else misses watching kids movies??) And, in fact, it is found that Pilgrims brought the tradition with them a little all over the place, including Canada, Grenada, the Netherlands, Norfolk Island, and even Liberia(!).

At its heart, it’s a celebration of the harvest, and the Pilgrims were giving thanks for abundance they had gone without for awhile. In other words, they ate their faces off because they finally had plenty to eat. (Come on now, wouldn’t you be thankful?)

Today, however, it spells something a little different (though the face stuffing tradition still holds): entire families sitting down at dinner tables for a feast of rare proportion (sometimes peppered with a heavy dose of traditional family tension and argument, but hey, what else is family for?) Although there are the staple elements – turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie – everywhere people have made it their own: some do sweet potatoes, some mashed, some put in melty marshmallows; some deep fry the turkey, others wrap it in bacon, and most (sane) people just stick it in the oven and roast it. In the Southern United States they typically serve it with mac ‘n’ cheese (or so I’m told) and have a tendency to serve their veggies up in casseroles. They even throw in roast ham and other meats (gasp!).

Chez moi, we stick to a relatively Northern U.S. tradition: roast turkey (though we used to roast capon…..),  mashed potatoes, broccoli soufflé, mom’s homemade cranberry sauce and stuffing, and good ole pumpkin pie.  Good food, good family, go home full and happy.

In any case, it’s a sure feast. This year I have the good fortune of having thanksgiving twice – that’s alotta turkey, but nothing compared to last year’s four (yup, 4) turkey dinners. Needless to say, for a fair weather turkey eater it was a little rough. But lets face it, when it comes to thanksgiving, whether you like turkey or not – and whether you like your family or not – you just can’t chicken out. (;D)

What’s your twist on it?


5 thoughts on “Fowl Family Traditions

  1. Kate says:

    my family changes the spread every year. we eat chilis, harissa, ginger, cous cous and coconut. if the menu is the window to the soul, we are a group of schizos in the midst of an identity crisis : )

  2. Now that is not something I expected to hear! What is Harissa?

  3. sarafc says:

    Sigh, no turkey for me this thanksgiving… but in our family we have all kinds of traditions. The deep-fried turkey in Texas, the sweet potatoes always have marshmallows and brown sugar in them, we have some green beans and Sweet cornbread, pecan pie and pumpkin pie. My dad’s side does a hearty stuffing with cornbread, and makes a savory cornbread with peppers and buttermilk (yum, yum). When we’re with our veggie family from Seattle it’s with a Tofurkey alongside a Turkey. I’ve also heard about the duck inside a chicken inside a turkey which will have to be tested out sometime!
    We should also note the post-thanksgiving goodness that is leftover sandwiches — stuffing, turkey, gravy, whatever you got in the fridge left, make a sandwich out of it and enjoy! That keeps us going for day afterwards.
    Thanksgiving I agree is huge – it’s the biggest holiday in the US because it’s not religious. In the US, whether you’re a christian, muslim, jew, or anything else, you can bet your bottom dollar you’re eating Turkey, or any of the Thanksgiving offshoot family traditions. Can you think of any other non-religious holiday that’s celebrated like that?
    My favorite fun-fact around Thanksgiving: the Presidential Pardon of a Turkey. No joke, it actually happens….
    Thanks for the post and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  4. sarafc says:

    wow, i just watched a crazy video on thanksgiving and wanted to share it with you:

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