Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two Best Thanksgiving Articles

Every year all food writers, food magazines, and newspaper food sections provide a ton of coverage of Thanksgiving, including its history and what you can cook. Naturally I've read a ton of these articles. This year I have two favorites.

From Slate I like: "Thanksgiving? No Thanks! Why food writers secretly hate the November feast" by Regina Schrambling. She writes:
"What makes me totally crazy is the persistent pressure to reinvent a wheel that has been going around quite nicely for more than 200 years. Every fall, writers and editors have to knock themselves out to come up with a gimmick—fast turkey, slow turkey, brined turkey, unbrined turkey—when the meal essentially has to stay the same. ...

"The more we make ourselves insane in mucking with the classics, the nuttier we make our audience. Every story purporting to take the stress out of the day actually reinforces the notion that the easiest feast of the year is the most harrowing. When you think about it, Thanksgiving is not so different from a roast chicken dinner with sides. You can't screw it up; there are too many saving graces for even an under- or overcooked turkey. But that's not the message anyone absorbs from all the magazines and newspapers with their absurdly perfect birds garnished with overkill."
And from the New York Times: "Where the Wild Things Were" by Andrew Beahrs. This op-ed is about Mark Twain's thoughts on food, and particularly about the way that game and other wild food has virtually disappeared from the American diet and the Thanksgiving table. Beahrs writes:
"Twain listed cranberry sauce, 'Thanksgiving style' roast turkey and the celery essential to poultry stuffing. But he surrounded these traditional holiday dishes with roast wild turkey, frogs and woodcock. Along with hot biscuits, broiled chicken and stewed tomatoes, Twain wanted turtle soup, possum and canvasback ducks fattened by Chesapeake Bay wild celery. ...

"Even some farmed foods had recent wild roots, such as the cranberries first cultivated a mere half-century earlier. Though the majority of foods in Twain’s day were domestic, the wild ones were distinct and wonderful, rooting meals in the natural world as cultivated things never could. His menu celebrated the amazingly varied landscapes of an entire nation. Shad from Connecticut, mussels from San Francisco, brook trout from the Sierras and partridges from Missouri all found their place alongside apple dumplings, Southern-style egg bread, ...

"We have a great deal to learn from Twain’s instinctive premise: that losing a wild food means losing part of the landscape of our lives."

I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving. I've just baked two stuffed pumpkins, which will be my contribution tomorrow along with some cranberry chutney I've been aging for several weeks.

1 comment:

Jen said...

The pumpkins looked lovely. I pretty much stick with a traditional menu that my family loves.