Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thanksgiving Food Sucks: A Rant

I am tired of Thanksgiving. I know, it's not even here yet; we still have almost two weeks to go, but I'm over it already. I was over it in October, actually, when all of my food magazines came with pictures of turkeys on the front.

Thanksgiving is the dullest holiday on Earth. I know, I know, I am a terrible person. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about gratitude, and spending time with those dearest to your heart, and realizing how blessed you are. But when Thanksgiving actually dawns, it's about slaving for an entire day to produce a meal that's devoured in 30 minutes and takes 3 times that long to clean up.

Fun? Not so much.

Plus, I don't even like Thanksgiving food. I'm serious. If I spent the day slaving over, say, shrimp dumplings and kung pao chicken and sesame snow peas and dan dan noodles, I'd be all over that. But no. I'm stuck with traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which is--admit it--a beige meal.

And no, I can't just serve my dream Asian Feast for Thanksgiving dinner. Because my father, bless his rigid German heart, would cry in his dan dan noodles if I did that. My father lives for Thanksgiving food. You can't make your daddy cry on Thanksgiving.

A couple of times, in the folly of my youth, I tried to shake up the Thanksgiving menu a little bit. One year, I scratched the creamed pearl onions and made sauteed broccolini and shiitakes. Another year, I jettisoned the waldorf salad in favor of tomatoes Provencal.

And guess what happened? My father ate with gusto, proclaimed the dinner The Best He'd Ever Eaten, gave me a huge hug...and the next day, begged my poor mother to cook the REAL dinner. Which she did. Cursing me every step of the way, although she won't admit it.

So once again, we are eating the beige Thanksgiving dinner that's been served since I was crawling on North Dakota linoleum:

-Herb Roasted Turkey: is it just me, but even if you injected old Tom Turkey with an herb infusion, he'd still taste like...umm, a blank canvas? Turkey is a vehicle for gravy. Period.

-Cranberry Relish: homemade, not canned, but still fucking inedible. Cranberries suck. Unless they are infused with sugar and baked in buttery streusel for coffecake. We even spike our cranberry relish with Grand Marnier, which should help (because booze improves everything!), but nope. Still gross.

-Stuffing: WTF is up with people eating soggy bread? Admit it, people! Stuffing is just that: soggy bread. Am I the only person on the planet who would rather eat lima beans than the crap people call stuffing? My mom even makes a crispy version, which everyone loves, except me. Crispy stuffing+gravy=soggy freaking bread!

-Waldorf Salad: ewwww. Mayonnaise and fruit. Seven shades of wrong.

-Creamed Pearl Onions: yes, there's some Yankee at our table, gratis of my grandfather. He had to have these foul little bulbs, bathed in cream and cheese, every year. And now my father loves them. They slip and slide all over the plate, taunting your fork, and later, after consumption, turn your intestines into Chernobyl. Two hours after creamed onion consumption, you are hazardous waste.

-Mashed Potatoes and Gravy: the only edible part of the meal. Gimme a plate of just that, and I'm okey-dokey.

-Clover-leaf rolls: Gee, we don't have enough carbs on the table? Apply directly to my thighs, why don't you?

-Pie: Only suitable for breakfast. The next day. Who really wants pie after that ass-busting meal, anyways? Plus, crust is nasty.

I'm sorry. I'm a crank and a killjoy, so I'll shut up now. I'm ready to suck it up and cook this slop...gimme a few glasses of wine and I'll be fine. And when it's all said and done, I'll be the first one to express my gratitude. That it's over. For 364 blessed days.


  1. A knife in my heart! I love Thanksgiving food! Rub that turkey in olive oil, butter and oregano, and whatever I feel like that day adn I love cornbread stuffing with tons of gravy. And lima beans and corn on the cob though I think green bean casserole should be declared a biohazard. And look up Tamar's Tangerine Meringue Pie recipe in the Mom's cookbook. Lovely and I use her recipe for the crust on all my pies. Perection. Really just serve the turkey and mix it up the way you want.

  2. I'm with you. I don't like pie crust. I think stuffing looks and tastes like shit. Turkey is just not my bird...but who the hell incorporates Waldorf salad into Thanksgiving dinner? Sign me up for the shrimp dumplings though:)

  3. Visiting via Momalom - and so happy to be here! TOO funny! I will admit, I love Thanksgiving food. EVERY BIT OF IT. And especially because of all the colors along with the beige. (Why is it that little kids will only eat BEIGE FOOD or vaguely YELLOW food? Mashed potatoes, french fries, bananas, apple sauce, plain bread or rolls - enough with the beige already!)

    By the way, I have a secret to pecan pie. And an easy recipe. A French secret at that. But not yet. A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N.... (hearing that ketchup commercial in your head?)

    Hell. Serve pizza if you like. It's all about family, right?

  4. I agree with you about the waldorf salad and some of the other dishes, but fie upon your cranberry blaspheming! I love cranberries (not raw, of course, but IN stuff)! Love them. I love cranberry sauce (homemade). I love apple-cranberry pie. And I love pie crust. I especially love the crust in a pumpkin pie.

    Oh, and sweet potatoes? Yum. Not the nasty stuff with the marshmallows, but sliced and baked with hazel nuts, cranberries, and booze.

    And we always have homemade mac and cheese, which I love.

    But this is all easy for me to say since my mom cooks the dinner. :)

  5. Oh my holy hell! Thanks for raining on my Thanksgiving parade! I was so excited too!

    I didn't see Brussel sprouts mentioned. What is your take on those?

    Maybe you could make Asian Duck instead!

    Thanks for the laughs! You Rock!!

  6. Oh, Witchie. I hear ya. We are veggies over here, but really, those damn green bean casseroles are just not what I want to be eating. At any time. Several years back I flew down to Fla. to have Thanksgiving with Sarah. Her husband made a delicious sea bass meal. (Yes, I was eating critters back then.) It was awesome. But it was not.quite.Thanksgiving.
    Persevere. And just keep the wine nearby

  7. GEW: Honey, potatoes ain't meant to be sweet, girl! Potatoes need butter and salt! Potatoes+sugar=wrong!

    Ungourmet: Brussel sprouts? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

    BLWolf: If you come from Momalom, you have good taste. I hear you about the kids--mine are weirdly attached to white food. Which is why they are terminally constipated.

    Jessica-I know, right? Waldorf salad is barf-o-rama.

    Kestrel: dear God, the monstrosity that is Green Bean Casserole. You are so correct--it IS a biohazard. If we combine it with creamed pearl onions, I think we'd have homemade chemical weaponry on our hands.

    Jen: How did both you and Sarah turn up veggies? She challenged me to come up with a Thanksgiving-worthy veggie recipe (that saucy wench) and I think I found it! Details later :)

  8. Growing up in Colombia, we obviously didn't celebrate Thanksgiving. Until my uncle's Catholic (and American-born) wife decided she needed a neutral holiday to host both her family and our (Jewish) family. Unfortunately, she was a horrible cook, and her family were all snobs, which made for a lousy evening. Every November we would dread going to their house.

    And then I married Zach. And he wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving, but only so he could cook a turkey. Having grown up with that dry turkey, it took him a couple of years to convince me to host it. Well... I became a convert. His turkey is amazing. He sticks lardons in the turkey's skin and makes sure to baste it with enough butter all day long. I think he actually published his way of cooking turkey somewhere online (I'll send you a link). And use good butter. No generic and not even Land o'Lakes. Go for good Irish butter, like Kerrygold. Same goes for pie crusts. Good butter is the secret. As for mashed potatoes, also butter and milk. And leave the skins on.

    All this said, we don't do Thanksgiving anymore. Zach goes to a tradeshow in Germany every year right before, so we've started going out and trying the local spots.

  9. Here it is! Scroll down to the bottom of the page:

  10. Once again, I smiled then I laughed. The creamed pearl onions are on my family's table each Thanksgiving (Yuck)....We always have a guest at our table and "us" kids always place bets on who is going to be too polite to say "Hell No" to those nasty creamed onions.

    No doubt, you will need to post about your Thanksgiving cooking adventure.

  11. I'm with you. Boring. And for some reason, I always end up making the green bean casserole that no one eats any other time of year but for some reason is necessary on Tgiving.

    I think yams should be called yaks.

    But...creamed onions? If cooked like my aunt makes 'em, they are a delectable explosion of butter and, um, butter. Mmmmmm. Can't wait.

  12. I don't like pie crust either, just the filling.

  13. Tamar, you are the coolest girl in school--I can't believe you gave away Zac's turkey secret and you aren't even making it this year!

    Ink and Velva--those onions are Smoooooooth Operators going down, but later? Holy Clear-the-Room-Gas, Batman!

    Yams=yaks...totally makes sense.

  14. Reading that post makes me glad we don't do Thanksgiving.
    Cranberries are nasty no matter how they are served, unless they are in liquid form and mixed with vodka.
    WTF is up with pumpkin pie? I can't get my head around it at all. Is it sweet? It sounds very very wrong.
    I think the onions sound good though. I'd eat them and risk the hazardous gas aftermath.
    What are yams? Sweet potato?

    You are right ,,you cant make Daddy dry!
    I actually love the beige Thanksgiving dinner. I too want to spice it up a bit. But everyone would probably shoot me if I did.

  16. Thank god we don't have Waldorf salad on Thanksgiving, I wouldn't eat that anytime, like you, ewwwww to mayo on fruit, then they throw in what? lettuce,nuts and raisins. Another thanks, we don't serve creamed pearl onions. And who ever decided that brown sugar and marshmallows were ok to add to sweet potatoes? So I am thankful that my family is up in Michigan and we are down south in Florida, with our small gathering eating what we like, with lots of wine:) Cheers!

  17. I hate Thanksgiving too! I hate the food, and I LOVE food. Christmas food-YUM. New Years Day food-YUM. Turkey sucks.

    I'm bringing the brussel sprouts this year. harumph

    The buttery cranberry streusel coffee cake sounds deelish.

  18. Thank you! I hate all the cooking that goes into thanksgiving, especially the stupid turkey (chicken's ugly, stupid cousin). I'm making ham, b/c at least then you can make yummy sandwiches later on.

  19. You crack me up! I'm glad that my family is open to experimentation on holidays (even if I have to hide the onions!). Bourbon is a good addition to cranberry sauce if you're looking for something new or another reason to drink while cooking! ;)

  20. OMG! My husband thinks I'm totally lost it. I'm snortin', my shoulders are shaking and crying with laughter. This is beyond funny. Know what? I'm not cooking this year. That's right. I quit. Kitchen closed. While I like turkey, three slices please. I don't want to have to re-invent it all. As far as stuffing goes, I'm told mine is amazing. I wouldn't know. I hate it, too. The rest of your dishes...too funny. The creamed onions, well I totally lost it at "Chernobyl". You and Erma Bombeck were related. Albeit, you spice up the language a bit, but I can't help loving it!
    As far as your German dad loving my food-- how much will you pay me to cater his dinner for ya?

    I'm making reservations for Thanksgiving. I'll take my prime rib medium-rare. No popovers (stupidest thing ever) and au jus on the side.

    Thanks for the laughs!

  21. Totally with you. Turkey--blech. Cranberries suck, the preposterous onion and waldorf crap you mention (I'd never even heard of those, thankfully) are unmerciful crap, too. My aunt makes yummy stuffing, but it doesn't go in the bird. and it's all sourdough and celery and dried cranberries (yeah, well, those are sugary enough) and yumminess because it's not soggy.
    But every year, you know what I have? Mashed potato sandwich. Taters, pepper, and sourdough. That's it. Cuz Thanksgiving food is totally secondary to the dessert extravaganza my family puts on. dozens of desserts, potluck, to make a carb-and-sugar junkie like me VERY thankful.

  22. Here in the UK there is no thanksgiving dinner...but there is the Sunday roast. I love the Sunday roast...and at Christmas it gets very exciting with added bits. The thing about a Sunday roast is that you can jazz it up a bit. It can vary from time to time -especially if it is being served EVERY sunday (it is not we don't always have time but it is regular enough). My dream roast is as follows (let's make this dream Christmas roast whilst I'm here)
    - turkey (garlic and lemon infused) and gammon
    - roasted potatoes, roasted parnips with honey, roasted sweet potatoes
    - sausages wrapped in bacon
    - prunes wrapped in bacon
    -carrots and celery sauted in wine and garlic
    - brocoli and cauliflower cheese
    -(maybe some red cabbage? Is that too much)
    -sprouts with roasted chestnuts
    - sage and onion stuffing (or perk it up with some added sausage meat)
    - cranberry sauce bought from the butchers in a jelly form with port.

    You can see how this brings on food coma in the afternoon... it is very yum though...I'd argue it is better than Thanksgiving dinners that I have had... Sorry guys! xxx

  23. TKW, you have my sympathies. We're definitely NOT a turkey house. In fact, we change the menu each year. But it's easier to do that when you're only feeding two.

    My most interesting thanksgiving ever would have to be the year we feasted on Turducken. I was in no way responsible for that train wreck. I was merely a bystander.

  24. Thanksgiving is over. Well at least for us Canadians. I can't beleive you dislike it SO much! I'll agree with you on the Waldorf salad and the creamed pearl onions, but turkey and stufffing and cranberries! Oh my, hating that may be a cardinal sin!

  25. You are a woman after my own heart, TKW. The very fact that the food is beige says it all. It's boring and takes too long to make and, then, in the end, IT'S STILL BORING! The holiday, however, is worth doing: Tense family moments (you've read my blog) spent around a dead animal, headless and, well, dead, in celebration of the annihilation of the native people of this county.

    Ah, I feel better.

    Screw the glasses of wine, I'm thinking bottles...?

  26. While I love Turkey Day meals, it was my grandfather's favorite. He will not be with us this year. My uncle has offered to take our family to Cracker Barrel this year. So I will be having roast beef this year.

  27. MP: bottles, definitely. You crack me up.

  28. Don't hate me but I'm not cooking this year. Instead we are going to my son in-law's parents house and they cook Filipino food for Thanksgiving. Should be interesting. I am doing the traditional meal for Christmas though so I am sure you will hear me ranting then. :D

  29. Cracker Barrel has the BEST roast beef sandwiches with mash potatoes.

    I'm a fan of beige traditional food, but stuffing doused with bacon juice topped with bacon bits isn't getting stuffed in my mouth. I hate turkey leftover and I will suffocate the next person who offers a damn cooking bag! Cooking the bird in a plastic bag doesn't make the leftovers more edible or more juicy or more crispy. Turkey is done being tasty the minute it leaves the pan. Feed it to the dog. Cranberry has been tainted by the dum commercials with the idjits in the waders. Mashed potatoes is all about the gravy, so it's sorta worth peeling the suckers. My plate will have turkey, potatoes, and gravy. I'm saving all the room in my belly for PUMPKIN ROLL!

  30. TKW-I'm going to try and convince you otherwise on Thanksgiving. I hosted last year and it was a great feast. Totally agree with you on the prep time and clean up time, but other than that, the food was delicious.

    I used this recipe from Bon Appetite for my turkey and gravy.

    The smoked applewood bacon and herb butter rub infused a ton of flavor into the bird. It was not dry at all. Plus, I purchased a Bell and Evans turkey. I think that made a big difference flavor wise.

    You sides sound really... how to put it delicately...uggh!! But, I totally sympathize with you on not being able to change them. Some people are traditionalists. Could you just add some additional sides that you like? That way, you can skip the creamed onions and waldorf salad in lieu of something more spicy or flavorful? And you Dad couldn't be upset because his are still there.

    I know, more work for you, but it could be worth it. Because if you are going to put forth the effort it takes to cook Thanksgiving, you should at least enjoy it. And it breaks my heart that TKW would not enjoy a holiday that is all about food!!

  31. Recipe for you, TKW: take one large bottle of red wine, some nice cheeses, and things wrapped in puff pastry. Order out a complete turkey dinner- whatever the makings might be.

    Or better yet, tell your Dad to jump right in and cook it himself if he's so partial to certain things. Happy Thanksgiving, Dad!

  32. ::hears angels singing::

    KitchWitch, I too hate Thanksgiving dinner. It probably has to do with me coming down with a stomach virus hours after one Christmas dinner (which is, alas, essentially the same as Thanksgiving in my parents' home), but mashed potatoes especially make me gag. Some people get depressed over the holidays because of family stuff or similar; I get depressed because my food options diminish greatly.

  33. my goodness, you feel strongly about this! i actually love most of the foods we eat for thanksgiving, but of them aren't your traditional beige dishes. kudos to you for sucking it up and selflessly making others happy. console yourself with extra mashed taters. :)

  34. I actually love Thanksgiving food, so I'm no help there!

    Maybe you could do a fun feast the next day, to make up for it!

  35. You had me at dan dan noodles... :-) My parents-in-law fly in every year, so yes, we have to do the traditional thing too. Although I don't like turkey at all, I do look forward to the honey baked ham from The Honey Baked Ham. We also get our turkey breast from there. The stars are always the fixin': mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, corn chowder. I get our pies from Baker Square. There is always a long line on Thanksgiving morning: it's part of the annual ritual for me now. LOL. I am sorry that this means so much work for you. Well, do it like me: eat the side dishes and forget the turkey!

  36. Here via Momalom--aren't they doing a great job connecting folks? I HATE turkey, but my Sweetie loves it. We've slowly shifted my family towards side dishes we love: roasted pearl onions, roasted brussel sprouts, green beans with almonds, turnips. Stuffing, gravy and pie are all terrific too. Ever since I gave myself permission to skip that blasted bird I've had much less of a hate on Thanksgiving.

  37. Your rant makes me laugh... but I do think you're crazy! I'll admit, I've never cooked the meal, so I don't have any room to compare. I'm lucky to have grown up in a family that likes to shake up the holiday meals, so we see thankgiving as a chance to play in the kitchen with new recipes. Although my dad has requested mashed turnips or something like that this year, because he wants to reminisce back to his childhood. It's been 5 years since my family has been together for Turkey day, so I'm excited to see what we cook up this year! And it should be a beer-soaked thanksgiving, since my hubby, dad, and future bro in law all have batches of homebrewed beer to share with the family.

    Also, I live the other 364 days counting down to my next chance to eat stuffing :)

  38. You're hilarious!!!

  39. Oh, I ADORE Thanksgiving food! The turkey, the gravy, the mashed potatoes, yum, yum, yum. And yes, I realize it is mostly starch but for one day of the year I don't feel guilty about eating all those calories. We have "dinner" early and then we put everything away. A few hours later another round of family comes and we dig everything out and it tastes so much better the second time around. I am salivating right now.

  40. I do turkey and mashed potatoes. All the rest I could do without. My mom threatened me with no potatoes this year because they're not traditional. Instead of arguing her blue in the face, I just told her I'm still grandma's favorite and she'll still cook them for me. And Pie for breakfast is the best. I'll miss not visiting the in-laws this year because my MIL always cooked three pies though there was only five adults and two children. Pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  41. Fae--pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Now that's an idea this girl can get behind.

  42. Hi all! Reading all your comments with extreme interest!
    I make homemade cranberry sauce with red wine, cranberries, and sugar. Stick cinnamon and whole cloves. Period. Boil til the berries pop. Remove the spices, and refrigerate. Then get out of my was as I gobble as much as I can get my hands on.
    We eat white sweet potatoes, roughly mashed, with butter and salt. A totally different flavor. I hate yams. Yams with marshmallow are just incomprehensible to me!
    Squash, turnip, and a green veggie. This year I'm trying brussels sprouts roasted with bacon and shallots. We always have a potato casserole, with lots of butter, sourcream, onion, cheddar. We make everyting ahead of time, and it can go into the oven to heat up.
    Two pies. This year it's apple, and I'm trying a new one from a jar of Pumpkin Pecan Butter from Williams Sonoma. You add 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, pour into a pie shell and bake. Can't wait to try it. I bet it would be good with a gingersnap crumb crust.
    Everyone have a wonderful, peaceful holiday!

  43. Easiest yet best tasting cranberry sauce ever. (but I am partial to it)

    1 bag frozen strawberries thawed
    1 can CRUSHED pineapple drained
    2 cans WHOLE cranberries
    cup or more of walnuts

    My family and friends feast on this for dinner, dessert, breakfast, etc. Take it or leave it, its saved our table from jelly can shaped cranberries for years.